Cook Islands Ministry of Finance News
Earlier this month the Prime Minister, the Honourable Henry Puna signed the Cook Islands' 19th Tax Information Exchange Agreement (“TIEA”) with the Czech Republic in Auckland. This signing, in addition to the news that Italy have recently ratified our TIEA with them, signify further progress by the Cook Islands in meeting its international tax obligations.
The signings were an important step for the Cook Islands to demonstrate its international cooperation on tax matters and to the principles of transparency and effective exchange of information. The entering into of this agreement is further evidence of the Cook Islands’ commitment to the OECD’s efforts in creating a level playing field in the international arena, encompassing the principals of transparency and effective exchange of information for tax purposes.
This signing makes a total of 19 TIEAs entered into by the Cook Islands, and demonstrates that the Cook Islands has become a leading jurisdiction in the fight against tax evasion. The TIEAs allow for these countries and the Cook Islands to request information from each other where a specific taxpayer is under investigation, and where there is reason to believe that relevant information is held in the other country.
Currently the Cook Islands is undergoing a Phase 2 Peer Review by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, which we expect will result in a positive report.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) has embarked on a new approach in our attempts to produce timely consolidated financial statements for the Government of the Cook Islands. MFEM with technical assistance from KPMG is now releasing the unaudited financial statements for the year ended 30 June 2012. The unaudited financial statement for June 2013 will be released shortly after it has been reviewed by the KPMG.
These financial statements will be replaced, once it has been audited, by the audited financial statements.
PRESS RELEASE - Business Environment Reforms Commence
The Government with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative’s technical support has commenced work on important business environment reforms. The reforms consist of drafting of a new modernised Companies Act and a Personal Property Securities Act tailored to meet the local conditions. Once the Companies Act has been passed, NZ Aid Programme funding will allow the implementation of a new on-line company registry. ADB together with the NZ Companies Office will support the full implementation of the new law and on-line registry.
The new Personal Property Securities Act will allow for moveable property to be used as collateral for loans. This will bring significant benefits to all local businesses. The new system which will be supported by an on-line registry will make it easier for individuals and businesses to access finance.
Benefits of these reform initiatives include:
- lower costs for incorporating a company;
- lower compliance costs of companies;
- improved searching capabilities for registry users;
- greater transparency in the operation of companies;
- increased access to finance for individuals and businesses;
- improved loan to value ratios; and
- potential for lower interest rates on loans supported by moveable property.
The ADB technical team has commenced discussions with stakeholders on these important reforms and this work will continue throughout 2015. Consultations on the policy design will occur over the next 3 months as it is important that all stakeholders are involved the design of these reforms.
For media queries please contact Richard Neves 22878