The barge is travelling North at the end of this week. – 22090520
Cook Islanders residing in the Northern Group are feeling the pinch of rising food prices and have welcomed government’s freight subsidy scheme which is expected to ease cost of living pain to households on the islands.
Cook Islands General Transport barge is heading to
the Northern Group at the end of this week and will have food freight
is leaving for Nassau, Pukapuka and Palmerston.
Secretary, Garth Henderson said the subsidy was a contracted
agreement between Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) and the
individual shipping companies. He said the subsidy amount at this stage was not
for public knowledge.
“This (subsidy) was designed to reduce the freight
rate of food products only to the Northern group to assist with the trying
times in the Pa Enua,” Henderson
“This has been in play going into three years
and is constantly being reviewed according to the needs and costs of services
to provide relief to our Northern group communities.”
Henderson said it was designed to reduce the
cost of living for people residing in the Northern Group and more so during
Covid-19 to maintain flows of freight.
“At this point we will continue this till the
end of this financial year.”
The subsidy started in 2018. A media statement
from MFEM dated April 2018 said the subsidy received was the equivalent of 40
per cent of the operating expenditure for a Taio Shipping voyage to Manihiki,
Rakahanga and Penrhyn.
The Cook Islands General Transport barge is also
scheduled to visit Manihiki, Rakahanga and Penrhyn at the end of this month.
Penrhyn island’s executive officer, Puna Vano
said any opportunity for the barge to visit was a blessing.
Vano said the people on the island had
noticed a big increase in the prices of commodities.
“The first thing is the fuel, $4.13 a litre for the petrol.
“If you were to compare it with boxing that is
standing there and taking a left hook from Mike Tyson.”
Vano said the price of
canned corned beef had also increased – when he first arrived to the island
last year he paid $7.50 for a can, now it’s up to $10.
“I know some people will say you have got fish there,
you should eat fish. Our people do eat fish everyday but if you eat fish every
day for one to two months surely you want just a slight change. That’s when the
corned beef comes in, that’s when the carton of chicken comes in.”
Vano said he was grateful for the subsidy.
“Already living in the outer islands is hard and
without the subsidy it makes it more tough.
“With the subsidy it does help, I wouldn’t say
totally, but at least it does reduce some stress off the people who chose to
live on the island.”
Vano said people have been leaving the outer islands
since the 70s.
“This is purely because the outer islands people have
been penalised in a way for choosing to live on the island.
“That is why we have huge numbers of people migrating
to Rarotonga, New Zealand and Australia.”
Vano said people from Rarotonga should visit the outer
islands “to learn what it’s like to live here”.