Cook Islands Ministry of Finance News
On Monday 17 November, the Cook Islands Court of Appeal made a decision on the constitutionality of the Cook Islands National Superannuation Fund Act 2000. The Court of Appeal found and declared that the Act is a valid enactment of the Parliament of the Cook Islands.
Cook Islands Minister of Finance, the Honourable Mark Brown pointed out that the Cook Islands National Superannuation Fund was a fundamental pillar of the country’s retirement policy. “We are becoming a more prosperous nation, we must move with the times, and we must ensure that the standard of living that our people have become accustomed to are maintained as much as possible in their retirement”
“The Cook Islands National Superannuation Fund is beneficial to the lives of workers in the Cook Islands, not detrimental. I was heartened by today’s decision, the Government recognises that there are improvements which could be made to the Act and we will look at those in the near future.
All of us, Government, the CINSF Board and employers need to continue pointing out to CINSF members what the benefits of saving for retirement are.
The recent effort by the CINSF Board to hold an annual general information meeting for members which included representatives from the New Zealand Public Trustee, the investment managers, Russell Investment, was a welcome step in this direction.
Ultimately, this sort of action is the best way for members to keep the Board accountable and be informed about what is happening with their retirement savings.”
In pointing out what modifications may be made to the Act Minister Brown pointed out that these would only be presented to the Parliament following a meaningful consultation and dialogue with stakeholders, including employers and members.
“The Act will continue to preserve the spirit of establishing a pool of savings which will provide retirement income for workers in the Cook Islands, through a mixture of personal savings, employer contributions and investment earnings. Any modifications will need to ensure this spirit is preserved and is in the interest of the member at the time of retirement.”
The full decision can be found at www.mfem.gov.ck.
Minister Brown welcomes the first reading of the Social Assistance Bill by the New Zealand Parliament
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The Cook Islands Government has confirmed its participation in the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Insurance Pilot (PCRIP), which was renewed for its third season with five other Pacific island countries: Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Cook Islands. The third season will run from November 1, 2014 to October 31, 2015.
As of 1 November 2014, the Cook Islands is covered against emergency losses caused by major Tropical Cyclones for a 12 month period until October 31, 2015. The premium of USD100,000 paid by the Government was able to secure catastrophe risk insurance coverage which will provide an immediate payout of up to USD2.8 million in the case of a major tropical cyclone hitting the major centres of Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
The premium cost was shared between the major SOE’s (Ports Authority, Airport Authority and Te Aponga Uira) and the central government.
Minister for Finance, the Honourable Mark Brown, outlined the PCRIP was part of the Government’s active policy of improving the economic resilience of the Cook Islands.
“The coverage provided through the PCRIP as well as increasing the Natural Disaster Response Fund to $0.636 million provides the Government with the financial capacity to respond confidently and immediately to the needs of the community in the case of a significant natural disaster. It is not a case of if, but when we are struck by a cyclone we want to be focused on meeting the immediate needs of the community to ensure their lives get back on track. These two initiatives of the Government will let us focus on that as opposed to worrying about the financial impacts. We are putting money away for the eventual rainy day.”
Recent press on quality assurance processes around the Te Mato Vai ring main construction has not captured the level of quality assurance processes which are being undertaken to ensure the quality of the ringmain pipeline.
The previous quality assurance process which was applied during the construction of the pipeline laid through the “Project City” project involved only testing for water pressure.
As Mr Latu Kupa, project manager Te Mato Vai clarified in his letter to the Editor of the Cook Islands News, the laying of the pipeline for Te Mato Vai has undertaken a more stringent two stage testing process. The first stage being water pressure testing, to test for leaks in the pipes, the second test being peels tests to check the adhesiveness of the electro fusion welds that join the separate lengths of pipe.
Of the twenty joints which have been tested since the commencement of the ring main, of these 19 have passed and the testing of one sample is currently being reviewed by CCECC and Kew.
The recently completed detailed design for Te Mato Vai has outlined that the maximum pressure existing anywhere along the pipeline will be 7 Bar. Testing is being undertaken to 9 Bar as per the New Zealand Standard 2566 (2008).
KEW is contracted to supervise the quality of the work being done and has engaged a quality assurance specialist. This quality assurance specialist is inspecting both the work and the subsequent two stage testing.
The arrangement between Kew and CCECC is working well and there is a high level of confidence amongst all stakeholders that the standard of work being undertaken will meet accepted New Zealand and Australian standards.