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LETTER: Investing in education

Thursday 23 March 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


LETTER: Investing in education

Dear Editor, Increasing the budget when there is no money for such an expense is not the only option (College faces financial difficulties, March 20).

The Progressive Party advocated a solution for such an outcome which we predicted was coming. Disestablish some of the schools that have falling rolls or are not providing a proper education for our children. Develop Tereora College as an educational campus from cradle to grave. I.e., early childhood, through primary, intermediate and college, with three outcomes, post college.

Outcome 1 – Further tertiary education, diploma, undergrad degrees and higher, Option 2 – Further technical training i.e., apprenticeships or equivalent and Option 3 – Providing vocational options for those not academic or technically adept either culturally or work focus.

Te reo and culture to be compulsory subjects up to year 9. The money saved from disestablishment goes to the Campus Budget and increasing staffing levels and salaries. Disestablished schools to be repurposed for campus, technical and vocational purposes.

Yes, there will be resistance from those who won’t want their schools disestablished and this is quite understandable. However, if our children continue to fall behind in their education and the opportunities of having a proper education allied to their abilities and capacities to learn then it is only a matter of when not if as we see them fall by the wayside.

We want our teaching staff to be remunerated properly then increasing the budget through essentially asking for a top up or hand out is not going to cut it. The Government has a finite budget and if people have read and understood the most recent budget, there is no or very little leeway to manoeuvre, not with the Government projecting an annual deficit.

This is a medium to long term plan and meanwhile the money will need to come from current Government budgets, which means re-prioritising, which also means someone or somebody is going to be affected down and upstream.

Te Tuhi Kelly

(Cook Islands News website)

Medicinal cannabis

I read the Cook Islands News article published in Tuesday edition about, “Calls for leniency on medicinal cannabis”.

The Government of the Cook Islands should bypass the Secretary of Health and go straight to the top, the Minister of Health Rose Brown and immediately set in motion a plan to import medicinal cannabis products while legislation is being drafted.

Under the Ministry of Health Act 2013, there are provisions where the Ministry of Health can adopt the guidelines regarding all pharmaceutical and therapeutic medicinal cannabis products that are now being prescribed by doctors to their patients in New Zealand and the only requirement for all of this to eventuate for our people to receive this same treatment is for the Minister of Health to put it in writing.

There are numerous medicinal cannabis products that have been granted consent to distribute under the NZ Medicines Act 1981, that is “Medsafe Approved”.

Medicinal cannabis products include Oral Liquids, Sublingual Solutions and Dried Cannabis Flower Products.

In the interim of these products landing on our shores, Customs must stop its illegal blockage of personally prescribed medicinal cannabis products that met all the requirements of our Health Act, by passengers arriving in our country.


Steve Boggs

International banking transactions

Finally, someone in the government talking some sense about our antiquated banking systems (Bringing back millions banked in accounts offshore, March 6). 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, and 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 (Wyatt, Ministry of Finance and Economic Management senior economist), 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, I have just finished shifting $3500 cash from a safe in the outer islands to BSP Avarua. It took a teller deposit, five logins and about 80 minutes over four 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 an IT hub. It is not going to happen until MFEM and the Cook Islands 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 increasing the price of a Cook Islands banking licence by millions of dollars if the bank does not provide the needed services.

Roger Malcolm

(Cook Islands News website)