Category Archives: News

RATES SET TO INCREASE FROM 1 JULY

The Destitute and Infirmed Payment is set to increase from $165 a month to $200 a month from 1 July 2016 and the Old Age Pension rate for those aged 70 and over will increase from $650 a month to $660 a month.

The Destitute and Infirmed Payment is a means tested payment targeting working age people, primarily those with high disability needs, who are unable to secure employment. There are approximately 200 people currently receiving this payment.

While the rate is set to increase to $200 a month, the Government has stated an intention to progressively increase the Destitute and Infirmed Payment over time so that there is parity with the Old Age Pension.

The increase to the Destitute and Infirmed Payment was announced as part of the 2016-17 Budget at an additional cost of $92,000 bringing the total cost for the payment to $528,000 in 2016-17.

The increase in the Old Age Pension was originally announced last year and will cost an additional $87,000 bringing the total expected expenditure on the Old Age Pension for those aged 70 and over to $5.8 million in 2016-17. This is in addition to $6.3 million allocated in the 2016-17 Budget for Old Age Pensioners aged from 60 to 69.

Youth Training Opportunities: JENESYS Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youth

The following opportunity is being offered by the Japanese Government for up to 3 students or youth to attend the above exchange programme in Japan under the JENESYS2015 programme.

JENESYS 2015 is a people-to-people exchange program between Japan and the Asia-Pacific region, JENESYS (Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youth) and is supported by the Japanese Government.

The purpose of the programme is to:

  • promote mutual trust and understanding among the peoples of Japan and the Asia-Pacific region, and to build a basis for future friendship and cooperation
  • promote a global understanding of Japan’s society, history, diverse culture, politics, and diplomatic relations.

This is a fully-funded two-weeks study tour of Japan for 14 Pacific Island Countries and Australia & New Zealand.   (For more info check out: www.usp.ac.fj/jenesys2015/)

Application process:

*  Completed and signed application

*  Copy of bio-data page of passport

*  2x recent passport size photos (accompanying the application)

*  There is an opportunity for up to 3 students or youth to be nominated

*  Current USP students (full-time or part-time) and Youth are encouraged to apply

*  Must be 18 years old and over

Application forms to reached OPS Office no later than Friday 22nd January 2016.

Funding to improve economic empowerment of women and reduce domestic violence

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has signed service agreements with 5 key service providers valued at $614,000 over 3 years to support economic empowerment of women and eliminate violence against women, as part of the Australian Government funded Gender Equality and Empowerment Project.

“I’m looking forward to the roll out of these projects,” stated Secretary of Internal Affairs, Bredina Drollet, “and I would like to thank the various organisations and people that have given their time and assisted in developing these projects”.

The Chamber of Commerce will take on a lead role in coordinating activities that increase economic opportunities for women already in business or proposing to start up a business.

The Cook Islands Tertiary Training Institute (CITTI) will provide both formal and informal training programmes and certificates which will help women learn more about business and business management.

These business courses will be supplemented by a mentoring programme which the Chamber of Commerce will coordinate to ensure that women in business who attend the CITTI courses have access to ongoing advice and guidance for their business development.

The National Disability Council will coordinate a programme that offers study, training and support into employment for women and girls with disabilities.

Punanga Tauturu (PTI) will lead the activity on eliminating violence against women. This is a specialist area in which they have worked for many years in collaboration with other key agencies – Police, Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Justice and a local men’s counselling service.

PTI will be responsible for developing a coordinated referral services policy, with support of relevant Government agencies, and has been provided with funding to enable women in need to access legal advisory services which were previously not available to them.

Training on improving public services in domestic violence cases will be provided by PTI on Rarotonga and the Pa Enua. The National Council of Women will provide advocacy services and training for women based on the results of the Ministry of Health’s 2014 Family Health and Safety Survey.

The Gender Project is funded by the Australian Government through the harmonised New Zealand Aid Programme. The funding is part of a $300 million commitment over 10 years to the Pacific under the Pacific Women Shaping Development Initiative.

[END]

Contact:
Bredina Drollet, Secretary
Ph 29370
Email bredina.drollet@cookislands.gov.ck

Increased Social Impact Funds to help the most Vulnerable

8 June 2015

MEDIA STATEMENT

Attn: News Editors/Chief Reporters

Budget 2015/16 – Increased Social Impact Funds to help the most Vulnerable

Minister for Internal Affairs announces increased funding to the Social Impact Fund to help the most vulnerable.

Minister for Internal Affairs, the Honourable Albert Nicholas, outlined that the Government will provide an ongoing annual increase to the Social Impact Fund of $60,000 from 1 July 2015.

Minister Nicholas pointed out the areas of great need. “These funds will be specifically dedicated to assist with the provision of services by NGO’s in the Pa Enua, particularly in the areas of mental health and disabilities.”

Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Bredina Drollet, welcomed the increased resources.  Drollet pointed out that whilst there has been a steady increase in the effort to address mental health and disability issues in Rarotonga, there was a need to reach out to communities in the Pa Enua who face the challenges which present in looking after family with disabilities or mental health issues.

The Social Impact Fund is a joint fund supported by the Cook Islands Government and the New Zealand Aid programme. Established in 2012, it provides contestable financial grant funding to nongovernmental organisations for the delivery of services in social priority areas identified by Government including disabilities, women and domestic violence.

[END]

First Disability Inclusive Development Newsletter

Click here to read Volume 1, Issue 1 of the Disability Inclusive Development Newsletter  In  this issue you will find:

p1 New Minister visits Disability Office

P2 Mangaia Disability Stakeholders trained; Diability Database Development in Progress; CRPD training opened eyes.

p3 Aitutaki participants grateful; Including you women with disabilities

p4 Inclusion promoted in schools; CINDC representatives in Geneva; Well done to Helen and Margret

p5 Inclusive Education Snapshots

p6 Disability Inclusion vital for Social Development

 

 

FOR SALE BY TENDER

FOR SALE BY TENDER “AS IS WHERE IS”

Tenders are sought for the sale of a Nissan Patrol truck1998 GA80 and a Daihatsu Hi-jet Van 2003 GA279.

For viewing contact Eva Mapu on Phone 29370

Highest or any offer not necessarily accepted

Send written tender in a sealed envelope marked “Nissan Patrol Truck 1998 GA80” OR  “Daihatsu Hi-jet Van 2003 GA279”

Address to: Secretary, Ministry of Internal Affairs
PO Box 98, Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Tender closes on Friday 10th April 2015

 

Media Releases – Minimum Wage Review

MEDIA RELEASE – 2015 Minimum Wage Review

FINAL MEDIA RELEASE – Public Consultations Minimum Wage Review, Jan 2015

Minimum Wage – Article by Anthony Turua

2015 Minimum Wage Review Issues Paper MAORI

2015 Minimum Wage Review Issues Paper – ENGLISH

2015 Minimum Wage Review – Labour Force Statistics and Facts

 2015 Minimum Wage Review – Worker Considerations

Pa Enua Minimum Wage Review

Pa Enua Notes on the Minimum Wage Review Questionnaire 2015

Cook Islands Minimum Wage Review 2015 – Employer Survey

Welfare Beneficiaries to receive Christmas Bonus

MEDIA RELEASE

WELFARE BENEFICIARIES TO RECEIVE CHRISTMAS BONUS

 The Government has again approved the payment of the 2014 Christmas Bonus to the recipients of the Cook Islands welfare benefits. The $50 Christmas bonus is expected to have been paid into the Bank of Cook Islands accounts of 5,490 recipients on Rarotonga and in the Pa Enua since Monday 22 December 2014.

“This payment recognises the high costs and financial toll on families during the festive season due to the many functions that are planned at this time of the year,” stated Minister for Internal Affairs, the Hon. Nandi Glassie. “In this period of uncertainty, Government would like to spread the spirit of giving and to help alleviate some of the financial burden on families”.

In November 2014, the Cook Islands Parliament passed the 2014/15 Budget which included an allocation of $278,000 under the Welfare Payments allocation administered by the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Christmas Bonus.

This Christmas Bonus payment was introduced in December 2003 as an alternative to the annual Christmas feast that had previously been provided for Old Age Pensioners.

End.

Contact:
Ngatuaine Maui
Welfare Director
Ph 29370

Come along to our Labour and Economic Activity Workshop

EVERYONE is invited to attend a workshop to introduce the latest Labour and Economic Activity Report. This will be held next Monday, 17 November, at Sinai Hall at 9am.

The Cook Islands labour force

Why is the unemployment rate higher in the Southern Group?
How many adults are not participating in the labour force?
What % of households participate in an agriculture activity? In a fishing activity?

If you want to know the answers to these questions AND MORE, come along and hear about the Labour Monograph report.  What is a monograph?

This report provides an in-depth analysis of the characteristics of economic activity and the labour force in the Cook Islands – the types of work people do, the education and training of the employed population and the participation of vulnerable groups in the labour force. The report is an initiative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Labour & Employment Relations Office). The monograph is  based on the Statistic’s Office’s 2011 Population and Housing Census.

Click here for more information about the Labour and Employment Relations Office

 

Press Release – Trustee Companies Act 2014

MINISTER OF FINANCE
GOVERNMENT OF THE COOK ISLANDS

PO Box 3246, Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Telephone + 682 24875 ♦ Facsimile + 682 24178

 PRESS RELEASE

 Trustee Companies Act 2014

Today the Cook Islands Parliament passed the Trustee Companies Act 2014 which will fill a void in the regulatory control of the Cook Islands financial industry.

The Act replaces the Trustee Companies Act 1981-82 and provides powers to the regulator, the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC), to carry out its functions as current international standards demand. The main new requirements or controls that the Act will bring in are: –

  • Intervention grounds which if breached will allow the FSC via the Courts to take over the running of a Trustee Company if they were breaking the law or have become financially distressed. Thus protecting its customers.
  • Provide the FSC with powers to refuse a licence or revoke an existing one if those associated with it are not fit and proper persons or have criminal records, or to protect the reputation of the Cook Islands in financial matters.
  • Provides for the vetting by the FSC for key staff and shareholders.
  • Provides powers to allow the FSC to issue directions to a licence holder and take other enforcement action.
  • Provides powers for the FSC to investigate unlicensed Trustee Companies.
  • Provides the FSC with information seeking powers.
  • Provides various offences for not running a Trustee Company properly and honestly e.g. making false statements to customers, concealing facts etc…
  • Provides for proper recourse to the Courts for licence holders unhappy with FSC actions and other checks and balances on the activities of the FSC in this area.

The Cook Islands is now fully compliant with current international standards regarding Trustee Companies which require regulatory authorities to have:

  • Powers to supervise or monitor and ensure compliance with the anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism requirements (AML/CFT).
  • Authority to conduct inspections of financial institutions.
  • Powers to authorise or compel production of relevant information.
  • Powers to impose sanctions for failure to comply with the AML/CFT requirements, which should include powers to impose disciplinary and financial sanctions. This should also include the power to withdraw, restrict or suspend a licence.

The international standards in this area are set out in the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) Forty Recommendations on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation. These are the international standards that all jurisdictions are evaluated against and if found badly wanting, international action can follow,  such as being put on the FATF’s warning lists, refusal of international aid, blacklisting etc.

The Cook Islands was last evaluated against these standards in 2009 and received one of the highest assessments and markings in the Pacific region. However, the international standards have since been revised and rewritten since that assessment.  The new Act strives to ensure the resilience of the Cook Island’s financial regulatory regime to stand-up to modern scrutiny by our peers and international bodies.

All Trustee Companies operating in the Cook Islands were consulted on in the drafting of this Act and have contributed to its final wording.

This Act will bring the regulatory regime for Trustee Companies sector in-line with that already in existence for banks and other financial institutions.

Minister of Finance, Mark Brown commented that “The passing into legislation of the Trustee Companies Act 2014 is very important for the Cook Islands and the future good governance of our financial industry. It helps ensure that we continue to make the Government’s regime to help protect our financial industry from abuse by criminals and terrorists, one of the best in the world. This Act will greatly help the Cook Islands in any future assessments or international scrutiny.”

“The present Government is committed to meeting international and recognised world standards wherever it can, to help protect the Cook Islands, its people, its industries and its reputation. The passing of the Trustee Companies Act 2014 continues that commitment and strengthens our nation’s defences against money launderers and the financers of terrorism abusing our facilities and services.”

Paul Heckles, FSC Commissioner, stated “This is a very important Act, which the passing of will significantly help the Cook Islands when international bodies evaluate and scrutinise, whether we have effective and serious regulatory control of our financial industry.”

Notes for Editors

The last international assessment of the full financial regulatory regime in the Cook Islands was undertaken by the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), a FATF regional body. The website can be found at:  http://www.apgml.org/

The Mutual Evaluation Report on the Cook Islands was issued on 9 July 2009 and a copy can be found at:  https://www.fsc.gov.ck/cookIslandsFscApp/content/assets/fa20d6faa9ccb577b92b5fc051a899f0/Cook%20Islands%20MER-%20final%20140809.pdf

The next inspection by the APG is likely to take place sometime in, or shortly after, 2019.

Details about the FATF can be found at:  http://www.fatf-gafi.org/

The FATF Forty Recommendations on Money Laundering and the Countering the Financing of Terrorism & Proliferation can be found at: http://www.fatf-gafi.org/media/fatf/documents/FATF%20Standards%20-%2040%20Recommendations%20rc.pdf

[END].

Etuatina Drollett | Executive Secretary to the Financial Secretary
CEO | Ministry of Finance and Economic Management
phone: +(682) 22878 | fax: +(682) 23877 | PO Box 120 | Rarotonga, Cook Islands
web: http://www.mfem.gov.ck | mail: etuatina.drollett@cookislands.gov.ck