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Bringing back millions banked in accounts offshore

Monday 6 March 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Business, National


Bringing back millions banked in accounts offshore
Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) senior economist Sally Wyatt. Picture: LINKEDIN/22111711

The Cook Islands Government is seeking to bring back home some of the more than $30 million a year in international banking transactions.

The Cook Islands Government is seeking to bring back home some of the more than $30 million a year in international banking transactions.

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Roger Malcolm on 07/03/2023

Finally, someone in government talking some sense about our antiquated banking systems. Modern e-businesses are struggling in Rarotonga and end up having bank accounts everywhere to facilitate payments. But if Rarotonga has it bad, the outer islands have it worse. We are still having to resort to carrying cash around to banks to make payments. It is worse when you only have one bank on an island. You have to carry cash between islands. You should be able to set up an e-business on an outer island. Be able to use a frictionless modern e-payment portal, be able to buy Google apps, get paid by Paypal in the Cook Islands, develop an app and get paid and taxed in the Cook Islands. We are also missing opportunities to be that dynamic Internet Starlink hub just because we don't have a recognised international payment portal. As mentioned by Sally, I doubt that there will be a slow uptake when we fix our payments problems. The banks have never fixed them. They have always been complicated patches. Like for me today, I have just finished shifting $3500 cash from a safe in the outer islands to BSP Avarua. It took a teller deposit, 5 logins and about 80 minutes over 4 days in total. It could have been quicker but BCI seems security shy and limits movement of funds to $1000 a day. We are not knocking this it is better than carrying cash in a paper bag on Air Rarotonga, but it is still a patch. We want to become a IT hub. It is not going to happen until MFEM and the CI banks sort out the problems. As MFEM says we are missing out, the banks are missing out and our future is missing out on millions of dollars. Please do something. Maybe the solution could be as simple as an increase the price of a CI banking licence by millions of dollars if the bank does not provide the needed services.