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Inclusive Economic Growth in Cook Islands to Improve with ADB Loan

News from Country Offices | 17 September 2013

RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Government of Cook Islands have signed the second policy-based loan worth $6 million to boost economic activity in the Cook Islands supported under the Cook Islands Economic Recovery Support Program totaling $16.0 million.

Mark Brown, Finance Minister of the Government of Cook Islands and Adrian Ruthenberg, Regional Director of ADB’s South Pacific Sub-Regional Office in Fiji, participated in today’s loan signing ceremony. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Management is the executing agency for the program.

“I am very happy to see the ADB has faith that our budget and financial systems can deliver,” Mr. Brown said. “The Cook Islands Economic Recovery Support Program is a good example for other development partners to follow, as the money isn’t tied to projects. The program assisted the Government in being able to reclaim land for the Pununga Nui market place, subsidize household water tanks across Rarotonga, and assist the Government in developing a procurement website.”

“We congratulate the Government for its commitment to embracing reform and boosting inclusive economic growth through this program,” Mr. Ruthenberg said. “This is strengthening the partnership between ADB and the Cook Islands by reinforcing progress in areas in which ADB has been traditionally active: infrastructure, public financial management, and public sector reform.”

The first $10 million subprogram, approved in 2009, focused on public sector reform, public financial management, and social welfare in the aftermath of the 2008 global economic crisis. This subprogram will see ADB support a growing need for investment in infrastructure at a time when weakened global economic conditions are creating pressures on revenue. The Government has prioritized investment projects including the main airport, roads, key buildings, and water supply.

Through the latest Cook Islands Country Operations Business Plan, 2014-2016, ADB is assisting with improving public infrastructure to promote environmentally sustainable private sector-led growth, reforming agencies responsible for delivering infrastructure services, and improving public finance management and public service performance.

Since joining ADB in 1976, ADB has provided Cook Islands a range of development assistance in the form of loans, grants and technical assistance. At year-end 2012, 18 loans ($65.71 million) and 32 technical assistance projects ($11.40 million) have been provided to Cook Islands.