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Historic aid agreement signed

Historic aid agreement signed
The Cook Islands, New Zealand and Australian governments have signed an historic agreement officially marking the first joint New Zealand and Australian aid programme.

Aid Minister Marian Hobbs says this approach to aid delivery in the Cook Islands is receiving regional and international attention.

"It is hoped the increased size and flexibility of the joint programme will bring significant social and economic benefits to the Cook Islands," Marian Hobbs said.

New Zealand provides $NZ6.2 million and Australia $A1.5 million annually in programmed aid to the Cook Islands.

"Australia and New Zealand are developing a strong and positive aid partnership to enhance the effectiveness and coherence of aid in the Pacific region," Marian Hobbs said.

"Combining the experience and lessons of both our aid programmes will help to achieve better results, such as a more strategic focus on outer islands' infrastructure development.

"It is hoped the agreement will pave the way for similar initiatives in the Pacific."

The agreement will enhance Cook Islands ownership and management of aid programmes, with the potential to reduce administrative processes.

The Tripartite Arrangement sets out the basis of the co-funded New Zealand and Australian Development Assistance programme, which will be piloted over a two-year period 2004 to 2006.

It was signed in Rarotonga by representatives of the Cook Islands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration and government aid agencies, NZAID and AusAID.

NZAID will manage the day-to-day operations of the combined programme and the three governments will meet regularly to set strategic directions.

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