15 Jun 2006

Proposal to shift labour to Cooks

7:12 pm on 15 June 2006

There are calls for the Cook Islands to look to other Pacific countries to solve a labour shortage.

The chairman of the New Zealand Pacific Business Council, Gilbert Ullrich, says a big shortage of skilled workers in parts of the Cooks is hampering business opportunities there.

Mr Ullrich and other members of the Council travelled to Vanuatu and the Cook Islands last week on a delegation headed by Foreign Minister, Winston Peters.

He says the Cooks could bring in workers from Vanuatu or those Tuvaluans and I-Kiribati who had been involved in the phosphate industry in Nauru but are now being repatriated.

"They could be looking at transferring those workers, Pacific Islanders, to work in the Cook Islands. Also there may be encouragement for Cook Islanders to go back to the Cook Islands and set businesses that would become import substitution businesses if they were identified for them."