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ADB Approves NZ$7.25 Million For Cook Islands

ADB Approves NZ$7.25 Million For Cook Islands

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (23 November 2012) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan of NZ$7.25 million ($6 million equivalent) to boost economic activity in the Cook Islands promoting inclusive growth.

This is the second subprogram under the policy-based Cook Islands Economic Recovery Support Program of $16 million. The first subprogram of $10 million was approved in 2009 which focused on public sector reform, public financial management, and social welfare in the aftermath of 2008 global economic crisis. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Management is the executing agency for the program.

“The Cook Island Government has adopted a comprehensive and inclusive approach to reforms,” said Emma Veve, Principal Economist in ADB’s Pacific Department. “Through widespread community consultations on a range of policy issues, reforms are designed to promote efficiency, equity and inclusiveness.”

An important element of the program is helping the Government to reorient its social welfare system to provide increased support for those on low incomes. The Government is outsourcing direct service provision to NGOs. For example, local community based groups have been contracted to provide home care services to the disabled and elderly. The program’s awareness of the needs of the vulnerable is of particular benefit to women who comprise an estimated 80% of in-home carers.

Under subprogram 2, ADB financing will support the government’s growing need for investment in infrastructure at a time when weakened global economic conditions are creating pressures on revenue. The Cook Islands is heavily dependent on tourism with as many as 100,000 visitors a year, over seven times the resident population which intensifies the need for infrastructure. The government has prioritized investment projects including the main airport, roads, key buildings, and water supply.

This is the first ADB loan denominated in New Zealand dollars. It has been welcomed by the Government of Cooks Islands as it does not need to face foreign exchange risks.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2011, ADB approvals including co-financing totaled $21.7 billion.

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