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Covid-19 and the financial cost to the Cook Islands

Friday 25 February 2022 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Economy, National

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Covid-19 and the financial  cost to the Cook Islands
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Cook Islands’ Covid-19 medical response cost more than $2 million in the six months to January.

Figures from the December 2021 Quarterly Financial Report show the total spent for the quarter year to date (YTD) was 70 per cent against total budget – or $2.1 million against a budget of $3m. 

That include vaccination rollout-related and managed isolation quarantine (MIQ) expenses of two scheduled flights in November and December 2021.

Government anticipated further utilisation of the budget this year. It included continuing the remaining vaccination rollout on Rarotonga and Pa Enua plus preparation work in lead up to the reopening of the borders last month.

The same report showed the Economic Recovery Roadmap (ERP) cost $23.935m for the corresponding time period. That was against a full year budget of $33.5m.

The $23.935m figure included the continuing ERP measures of the wage subsidy, sole trader/business cash grants due to Covid-19 in New Zealand and the extended border closures last year (from August, 2021).

Government this week extended the wage subsidy for March as businesses feel the pinch due to an underwhelming number of New Zealand tourists following the border reopening on January 13, 2022.

Meanwhile pharmaceuticals in the December quarter cost $759,000, equated to 65 per cent of the $1.168m budget.

The fund is specifically used to procure pharmaceutical medicines and consumables for the Ministry of Health, inclusive of freight and insurance costs.

Government said in the report that further utilisation of the pharmaceuticals budget may ensue in future periods to cater for the current quarantine free travel with NZ and Covid-19 response.