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Recovery plan still coming

Saturday 27 February 2010 | Published in Regional

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Finance minister Wilkie Rasmussen says government should have a recovery plan for Aitutaki in place early next week.

“It’s the timing factor. Everyone wants it to happen yesterday but we have to be realistic,” he said yesterday.

He admits government has been under a lot of pressure to fast track the plan as it has already been two and a half weeks since Aitutaki was hit by Cyclone Pat which left widespread devastation to homes and infrastructure.

The minister had hoped the plan would be finalised this week, but as of yesterday work was continuing on the plan.

A government assessment team returned from Aitutaki on Thursday and its findings, including those of United Nations Development Programme disaster risk management advisor Moortaza Jiwanji, were being included in the recovery plan.

Rasmussen has already stated he believes the cost of reconstruction of homes will exceed the initial government estimate of $12 million.

The minister’s CEO and member of the secretariat working on the recovery plan, Vaine Teokotai, reiterated that the priority area of recovery is housing.

Rasmussen chairs the committee which is made up of several government departments working on different aspects of the final plan including forms of financial assistance for the community, and plans for infrastructure, agriculture, and the environment.

Teokotai said officials working on the plan under the committee are well aware of the urgency in completing it and admits it has been a daunting task.

“We hope to have the housing component of the plan announced next week as we enter the reconstruction phase. We have been looking at the different categories of need, from the very vulnerable to those who may be able to use government assistance to help build their homes. It is a complex issue and there have been different ideas put forward for housing.

“Possible house designs are being looked at so that the Aitutaki community can decide on what best suits them. They will get basic cyclone proof homes,” says Teokotai.

He says the recovery plan secretariat is working hard to have the plan ready for cabinet if it chooses to meet on Monday.