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Letter: Prioritise health and education

Thursday 4 January 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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Letter: Prioritise health and education

Dear Editor, Most infrastructure projects can create significant economic stimulus that can benefit everyone in the economy. But that is not the case in the Cook Islands.

Infrastructure projects are appealing to Prime Minister Mark Brown as a form of fiscal stimulus, it’s a visible reminder to voters that the Government is working.

The big problem is, just because the Government is working on capital projects doesn’t mean it’s being productive. An example of this is the ‘White Elephant’ Te Mato Vai water supply project that had a budget of $59 million and now has ballooned to over $100 million. And to add insult to injury, this wasteful investment has no real tangible benefits for the people.

So please everybody, don’t be fooled after PM Brown boasted to this paper that he is promising a year of acceleration with the completion of capital projects initiated in 2023.

What really is happening, any growth will be off-set by the amount of interest to be paid because the revenue generating abilities are not enough to match the interest and that is already being seen right now in all of the 14 ministries and it’s only going to get worse.

These infrastructure projects are not providing stimulus in a timely manner and are taking away funding from our two most important ministries, health and education.

We desperately need to increase the budget for our health department because as the Office of Public Service Commissioner told the Cook Islands News on December 28, 2023, “TMO continues to operate under tight budgetary constraints which has had a detrimental impact on the retention and recruitment of quality employees for the ministry”.

Not only is the health department in trouble, the same is true for education.

It was reported in this paper on the abysmal performance in the latest National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) literacy and numerical tests of Cook Islands students.

PM Brown is travelling the globe in search of aid money to fund infrastructure projects with the main focus being to enhance his own agenda of political and electoral considerations at the expense of the overall wellbeing of today’s Cook Islanders and the generations to come.

Steve Boggs