COOK ISLANDS PM WANTS REGIONAL SOLIDARITY AGAINST OECD

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By Virisila Buadromo FM96/Navtarang/Viti FM

AVARUA, Rarotonga, Cook Islands (June 17, 2001 - PINA Nius Online)---Cook Islands Prime Minister Dr. Terepai Maoate will host the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting in Rarotonga this week with hopes of successfully achieving an urgent mission: solidarity from other Pacific Islands Forum countries in fighting their listing as tax havens by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Dr. Maoate says his main aim is to get Niue, Nauru, Samoa, the Marshall Islands, and Vanuatu to request OCED to conduct multilateral rather than bilateral dialogue sessions.

He believes the six countries named by OECD, including the Cook Islands, would be more effective as a combined force in battling the international organization’s "Harmful Tax Competition Initiative."

The initiative was developed in response to OECD concerns over the organization’s members’ supposed loss of tax bases through mobile financial activities offered by offshore financial services in the Pacific Islands nations and elsewhere.

The OECD members include some of the richest and most developed countries in the world, such as the United States, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The OECD has also given the six listed regional countries a July 31st deadline to make changes to the operation of their offshore financial centers or face being imposed with defensive measures.

Dr. Maoate said there is no way the Cook Islands can get close down its off-shore financial services center. This is because it is a huge income earner for the country.

It is understood that income derived from these offshore centers can comprise 8 to 10 per cent of some small countries’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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