10 Aug 2009

Cook Islands' Finance Minister deflects budget criticism

10:41 am on 10 August 2009

The Cook Islands' Minister of Finance is deflecting criticism of this year's budget, saying it will keep people in jobs.

The budget, which was passed last week, includes 82 and a half million US dollars in loans for harbour, road and water upgrades from China and the Asian Development Bank.

Sir Terepai Maoate, described the financial plan as the mother of all budgets, prompting the Opposition to tag it "the mother of all mistakes" because of its reliance on loans in a time of recession.

But the deputy Prime Minister says the borrowing is necessary.

"We've made this intention of this amount of money to deal with the road upgrade and mainly of course for upgrading the water ring around the island in order that we get not only the improved supply of water but also the quality of water because unless we get that in place we cannot apply the user-pays system in order to repay the loan"