The private sector is waiting to see if a recently announced cash boost for the Cook Islands will be accompanied with an announcement to extend the Covid-19 economic response plan.
With an expected travel bubble with New Zealand pushed to
May at the earliest, the private sector is waiting on government to announce
the fate of the popular wage subsidy.
As part of the government’s Covid-19 economic response, the
subsidy has been credited with keeping the economy afloat and preventing
businesses from shutting down.
Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Eve Hayden said:
“The discussions Chamber has been having with Government continue to recognise
that financial support will be needed even after two-way quarantine-free travel
“It will take some time for positive cash flows to resume.”
When reached for comment, Secretary Garth Henderson from the
Ministry of Finance and Economic Management said any official announcement that
would include an extension of the wage subsidy and other economic response
measures will be made next week.
Also included in last week’s announcement that two-way,
quarantine-free travel will now be pushed to May at the earliest, was an
agreement to re-allocate $20 million in funds provided by NZ for use in meeting
the country’s shorter-term cash needs.
When asked for further details about the funding, Prime
Minister Mark Brown said details are still being finalised between both
He said the cash is “… part of a forward allocation of
funding for the Cook Islands that is being repackaged to be used this year.”
“We welcome any sort of support that the government of New
Zealand can provide to the Cook Islands because this will go some way towards
alleviating the issues that we have, and some way to continuing the support
that we are giving out in terms of the wage subsidy, interest payments, and so
Earlier this week, Brown also met with senior officials of
the Reserve Bank to discuss some of the country’s efforts to assist mortgagees
and loan holders during the economic downturn.
Brown said he expected to discuss if the Reserve Bank could
assist in some of those areas.