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Government defends budget attacks

Thursday 6 November 2014 | Published in Politics

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Government defends budget attacks
The Democratic Party (pictured) has been vocal in Parliament about the Government's reliance on aid from China, but today the Government hit back arguing it was the Democratic Party that began the relationship with China. 14110517

The Government fought back against criticism from the opposition as the second reading of the latest budget continues.

Yesterday CINews reported that Democratic Party member Albert Nicholas said the budget spending allocations saddened him, particularly the Cook Island’s reliance on overseas aid.

“There is no free lunch when you are dealing with China. The more reliance, the more we will have to make compromises.”

But Deputy Prime Minister Teariki Heather hit back in Parliament yesterday saying that it was the opposition that began the Cook Islands relationship with China when the Democratic Party was in power.

Prime Minister Henry Puna also said the merit of the Bill needs to contrast with the “bashing” they were getting from the opposition.

“They are trying to create a phobia against China… but their phobia of China started from them.

This country can enjoy an association with China.”

Puna said he was meeting with the President of Peoples Republic of China in Fiji in two weeks – an opportunity to “strengthen the relationship with China”.

The second reading of the budged will continue this week.

BUDGET – AT A GLANCE

$13 million will be spent on health

$14 million will be spent on education

From 2014 over 70’s pensioners will gain $640 a month, an increase from the current $625

$2.25 million in 2014 and another $2.25 million for 2015 to assist with flight services to Los Angeles and Sydney

$700,000 for 50th year of self-governance celebrations

Reintroduce Cook Islands coins and cease importation of New Zealand coins