The FINANCIAL — Improving the business environment in the Cook Islands will help attract additional private sector investment that is needed to ensure the future of the tourism industry, develop other sectors, and improve living standards, says an Asian Development Bank (ADB) report released on October 29.
The report, The Cook Islands: Stronger Investment Climate for Sustainable Growth, examines challenges the country faces in realizing its economic potential and offers recommendations that will support private sector-led growth. It was launched by Minister of Finance Mark Brown at a lunch held as part of the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting in Rarotonga.
“While the Cook Islands is one of the best performing Pacific economies, it needs continued economic growth to improve social programs and to adjust to emigration challenges,” said Andrea Iffland, Regional Director of ADB’s Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office in Sydney. “The reforms recommended in this private sector assessment will build on the solid economic foundations in place here and make it easier to do business and easier for businesses to grow.”
The report identifies policy actions that should be prioritized and provides strategic recommendations that will help improve the business environment. Areas where it calls for improvements to be made include policy transparency, public sector performance, business entry processes, land market issues, improving access to finance, promoting more gender equality, upgrading infrastructure services, improving the efficiency of state-owned enterprises, and developing a framework for competition.
The report says reforms in these areas will grow the economy and help the Government of the Cook Islands achieve its goal of sustainable development through private-sector-led growth.
The report is the fourth of five private sector assessments (PSAs) the Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI) will produce this year, alongside Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Timor-Leste, and Solomon Islands. The PSAs focus on the institutional and policy reforms needed to remove constraints to broad-based private sector growth.
PSDI works with ADB’s 14 Pacific developing member countries to improve the enabling environment for business and to support inclusive, private sector-led economic growth. It is cofinanced by the Government of Australia, the New Zealand Government, and ADB.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2014, ADB assistance totaled $22.9 billion, including cofinancing of $9.2 billion.