31 Jul 2002

Cooks Islands budget puts more in the pockets of those at the lower economic end

7:01 pm on 31 July 2002

The Cook Islands Deputy Prime and Finance Minister, Sir Geoffrey Henry says the government's 2002 budget will put more money in the pockets of those who needs it most.

Sir Geoffrey Henry says parliament yesterday approved of the government's plans by increasing welfare benefits over a period of two years

He says the pension for the elderly will increase by fifty percent over the next two years to nearly 150 US dollars a month while disability, child, unemployment benefits will be raised by almost ten US dollars.

Sir Geoffrey says the tax free threshold on wages has been increased to nearly five thousand US dollars, while import levies will be reduced to make goods more affordable.

The Finance Minister says the increased welfare spending will be matched by earnings from a predicted trade surplus and an expected increase in foreign investment.

"The current income take from tax and company tax we are predicting an increase in that as a result of increase purchasing power and we're predicting that company taxes will also move up as a result of more companies coming into the fold and the recorded surplus this year, is little over $5M ."

Sir Geoffrey Henry