21 Aug 2007

Cook Islands hopeful New Zealand money will be forthcoming for outer islands

7:58 pm on 21 August 2007

The Cook Islands deputy prime minister, Sir Terepai Maoate, is hopeful that the New Zealand government will agree to a request for funds to cover the development of outer island infrastructure.

Sir Terepai has met with the New Zealand Finance Minister, Michael Cullen, and will also be holding talks with the Foreign minister, Winston Peters, in Wellington about the possibility of assistance.

The upgrading of airstrips, wharves, harbours and sewerage systems are among the most urgent infrastructure needs for the outer islands while Rarotonga also needs to improve its harbour, road and waste disposal system.

Sir Terepai wouldn't say how much is being requested but he says they will look at soft loans to cover any gaps.

"We have to first prioritise because if we don't, we'll be looking at over 200 million New Zealand dollars to do the infrastructure that we need. But, for the time being, I would reckon between 80 to 100 million dollars is needed to repair and put in new infrastructure."

Sir Terepai says they'll sign an agreement this week with China for a 7.2 million dollar soft loan to build the sports stadium while the European Union and the Asian Development bank are also offering loan assistance.