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Stimulus reviewed

Wednesday 1 April 2009 | Published in National

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Tuesday 31: Financial secretary Sholan Ivaiti says government is still looking into how the proposed $3 million stimulus package for small businesses will be spent.

Last week tourism minister Wilkie Rasmussen announced that government is now looking at scrapping the original plan and putting the funds directly into tourism.

Ivaiti says from discussions with finance minister Sir Terepai, the $3 million would not go to tourism alone.

“What we have requested is for the CEO for Tourism Corp John Dean to come up with proposals for funding from the $3 million that will assist in the short to medium term for economic growth in the tourism arena, particularly in the outer islands,” says Ivaiti.

Rasmussen told the Aitutaki tourism industry that he is hoping at least $1 million of the fund will go towards promoting their island.

Two weeks ago Sir Terepai made a ministerial speech in parliament saying he was frustrated that the stimulus package had not been launched and put to use five months after it had been appropriated in the annual budget.

Already members of the public have decried the package with suggestions that it would be open to abuse and better put towards boosting the tourism budget.

Ivaiti says the Business Trade Investment Board is still reviewing the soft loan proposal under the $3 million package.

The package fund announced by Sir Terepai in February was to be deposited in the Bank of the Cook Islands with $2 million going to soft loans for small to medium businesses and $1 million for interest rate subsidies on business loans.

Ivaiti says the BTIB will soon be providing feedback to government on how the $2 million soft loan proposal part of the fund can better serve small to medium businesses in need of assistance. - Helen Grieg