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By Moana Moeka‘a

AVARUA, Rarotonga, Cook Islands (April 3, 2002 – Cook Islands News)---Rarotonga will be the focus of government efforts to improve the country’s basic infrastructure in the 2002/2003 budget due out in July.

According to a section on "infrastructure development" in the budget policy statement released by Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Henry last week, the government will be especially aiming to improve the island’s airport, wharves, roading and water supply.

Investigating the use of wind power technology as a source of renewable energy will be another priority.

"A key objective of government is to promote strategic investment in infrastructure as part of a broader responsibility to facilitating and building the productive capacity of the nation," said the budget policy statement.

"The best way forward is to provide public goods that will enable communities to better meet their basic social needs and to enhance their economic well being."

The statement says the government will improve on infrastructure development in the 2002/2003 year by focusing on the following:

• Seeking financial assistance from donor partners to assist with the upgrade of the Rarotonga and Aitutaki airports with an estimated cost of NZ$ 25 million (US$ 11,030,750);

• Assisting the construction of the new courthouse with funding provided by China estimated at NZ$ 3.8 million (US$ 1,676,674).

• Beginning the design and construction of the Rarotonga and Aitutaki solid and liquid waste treatment project.

• Funding the Ministry of Works to improve and upgrade roads, drains, foreshores and water reticulation systems on Rarotonga. This will include the allocation of further funds for the maintenance of government buildings managed by the Cook Islands Investment Corporation.

• Working closely with the CIIC and the Rarotonga Ports Authority for development of the seaports to accommodate the expanding needs of the fishing industry.

• Continuing investigations and a feasibility study into wind power technology as a source of renewable energy.

Capital expenditure for the outer islands in the current financial year is estimated at NZ$ 2,380,000 (US$ 1,050,127).

This includes harbor work at Tukao and Tauhunu in Manihiki — which begins next week — as well as in Rakahanga.

Construction of Manihiki’s NZ$ 400,000 (US$ 176,492) hospital is expected to begin in about three months’ time, following the completion of work on the island’s harbors.

For additional reports from the Cook Islands News Online, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Cook Islands News Online.

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