Cooks candidates contend elections
52 candidates will contest the elections this week in the Cook Islands.
Fifty two candidates will contest the elections this week in the Cook Islands.
Traditionally the 24 seats are decided between the Democrats or the ruling Cook Islands Party but this time there is a third party and two independents among the candidates.
Daniela Maoate-Cox spoke to the main parties about the key issues heading into the election.
The finance minister, Mark Brown, says he is confident the Cook Islands Party will hold onto power because it has given the country nearly four years of strong and stable government.
MARK BROWN: Solid and stable government have enabled us to put in place some very strong changes in our taxation reforms to increase money into people's pockets through reductions in income tax and at the same time providing corresponding relief to income earners and also pensioners. And on top of that the government's achievements in infrastructure projects, particularly for the outer islands, where infrastructure had been neglected for so many years.
However, the Democratic Party's leader, Wilkie Rasmussen, says the current Government has spent more time on overseas visits than on strengthening the economy.
WILKIE RASMUSSEN: Their focus has been more on international affairs, they've done a lot of travel to sort of promote the Cook Islands on the international stage and I think they've missed the point. So within the first two years of government, we're going to really sit down and look at how we can create incentives and revitalise the local economy.
Wilkie Rasmussen says one of their plans to develop an agricultural base on Mauke, Atiu and Mangaia would save up to three-million dollars by cutting down on imports and create jobs on these islands.
The leader of the newly formed One Cook Islands Movement, Teina Bishop, says the outer islands do need to be developed but he says the emphasis should be on tourism. He says out of the 127,000 visitors to the Cook Islands last year, 25,000 went to Aitutaki, but only 1000 went to Atiu.
TEINA BISHOP: Not many go to the other Cook Islands, the concentration of tourism development is in Aitutaki and Rarotonga. We need to push it out to the sister islands and if we help with the subsidy of fuel cost for the airline it will help the islands to develop.
Teina Bishop says the party would also subsidise airline fees and other transport costs between islands to attract visitors.
A candidate for the Titikaveka Oire community, Teava Iro, says small communities have been bombarded by empty promises over the past fifty years and he's running to show the community they can be self starters.
TEAVA IRO: Well I want to see the people stand on their feet and start doing things for themselves rather than wait for Government promises to arrive because it never does, and try work as a team and see what we can do in the community to create jobs.
Teava Iro says small businesses need to be encouraged to diversify and offer multiple services to increase their revenue.
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