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Ending government contacts abruptly can be costly: Cook Islands Finance Minister
8:25 pm GMT+12, 13/06/2018, Cook Islands

 Ending major government contracts abruptly could result in either financial catastrophes or have the Cook Islands miss out on international treaties.
With political parties campaigning ahead of the general election, promises such as stopping purse seine fishing, ending Te Mato Vai and the Manatoa cable are being made.
It was in 2010 when a similar action led to the people of the Cook Islands paying more than $12million in damages - the Toagate affair.
Cook Islands Party Takuvaine candidate and caretaker finance manager Mark Brown said contractual agreements when ended abruptly will have dire consequences for the nation.
“These are all reckless comments and very dangerous comments from the Democratic Party because it really does expose the Cook Islands our country and our people to significant risk and significant cost by doing this,”  Brown said.
“For example – for Teb Mato Vai we have finished stage one and we are around to stage two. A contractor has already been signed up and he has started the work. Now to cancel or to stop Sate two of Te Mato Vai wound incur significant cost in damages and compensation from a breach of contract.
“Essentially the cost we would be looking at would far exceed the cost to Toagate, that we have just finished cleaning up from the Democratic Party government. So their first statements coming out on what they are going to do; is essentially saying we are going to create a new Toagate for the Cook Islands people to pay for.”
According to Brown, the Manatua cable is a multi-national effort in bringing broadband to the islands of not only one country. He says such projects cannot be brought to a sudden halt.
The Democratic Party has said they will do away with the Manatua cable labelling the effort as a waste of money.
“Likewise for the Manatua Cable, we have made strong commitments over the last five years to looking at how we can get faster and cheaper broadband into the country. The Manatua Cable which is a consortium of four other countries, provides us a way of doing this,” rown explained.
“So for us, we have worked very hard in bringing the four countries together with development partner assistance to get to the stage where we are ready to sign up with the contractor who will build the cable for us.
“And again, the Democratic Party is coming in and threatening the Cook Islands people by saying that we are not going to allow this cable to go through. This is something our people have been crying for years. To me, it s a disgraceful disrespect of our country.
On fishing, especially purse seine, Brown says purse seine is controlled and has not affected fish stock. He says the agreements in the fisheries sector and are bilateral and work both ways.
The Democratic Party want to phase out purse seine fishing saying that fish stocks are not what they used to be contrary to the report presented by the Forum Fisheries Agency.
“Last week the Forum Fisheries Agency forum was held here, and in that conference it was demonstrated that the tuna stocks of the Pacific Islands are in a very good shape under the current management that we have of our fisheries,” Brown added.
“So we are protecting the sustainability of our fisheries stock and it is showing in the data that we have, the facts that we have, the scientific evidence that we have that our fisheries management programs are working for the benefit of our country and to all the people in the Pacific.
“And to come in again and to make such a reckless comment and say we are going to cut fishing in our waters, again, shows a lack of understanding in terms of the benefit. Not just for the Cook Islands but the other Pacific countries are getting by leading the way in how we want our Pacific Fishery to be managed and to utilise for the benefit of all people.
“The European Union (EU) agreement; that is just the one agreement we have. We also have fisheries access agreements to American companies, Korean companies and Taiwanese companies. And the EU one is a good one because for us it also does contain a package of promoting and assisting the fisheries industry in the Cook Islands.
“There is a lot of support that goes out to our fisheries groups in our country. Things like the fuel subsidies for our local fisherman. The support that is given out to our local fisherman in terms of safety gear and all of these have a broader impact than just the revenues we are collecting from the fish that these boats are catching. So it is a bigger partnership agreement that we have set up with the EU in this regard.”
Brown said he was hoping that people were informed and know what is happening and are not swayed by things that could end up working against the nation.


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