The Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) jointly signed two major initiatives on Wednesday, 18 December 2019, with a combined value of $48.4 million. These initiatives will strengthen Cook Islands’ position ahead of the impending graduation from eligibility for Official Development Assistance (ODA - as defined by the OECD).
The first initiative, valued at $36.4 million, is a four year continuation of New Zealand support towards the education, health and tourism sectors and also provides additional funding towards public sector strengthening. Moreover, it will strengthen the mutually beneficial partnership between New Zealand and Cook Islands.
The second initiative is the creation of a trust fund to invest in physical infrastructure to deliver essential services to Cook Islanders as well as supporting the development of the Cook Islands infrastructure sector.
This trust fund was established with $12 million as a gift from New Zealand to celebrate Cook Islands’ achievement of graduating to High Income status. The joint governance arrangements between New Zealand and Cook Islands for this trust fund are a further reflection of the mature relationship between our two nations.
With the graduation from ODA eligibility scheduled for 1 January 2020, the signing of the two initiatives comes as an assurance that New Zealand will remain a strong partner to our nation as we navigate new waters.
Photo (Rachel Bennett – Acting High Commissioner and Garth Henderson – Financial Secretary)