CHINESE OFFICIALS IN COOKS TO FACILITATE LOAN

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RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Jan. 30, 2008) – A Chinese delegation is currently in the Cook Islands to help government obtain its loan from the Export-Import Bank of China for the Pacific mini games.

The delegation has been in talks with local officials about the NZ$9.3 million [US$7.3 million] concessional loan that government will take to cover the cost of hosting the games.

Cook Islands Investment Corporation chief executive John Tini says part of the delegation's function is to assist government officials with the loan.

The low interest long term loan was offered by the People's Republic of China in November when another visiting delegation informed government that using grant funds already available would delay the construction of the sports complex.

The Ex-Im Bank is the Chinese government's bank responsible for concessional loans to other countries. One of the basic criteria of these long-term, low interest rate loans is that Chinese enterprises should be selected as the contractor for projects.

Finance minister Sir Terepai Maoate told CI News last month that negotiations were underway for finalising the funding arrangement.

Government had looked at alternative funding but could not find anything that could better the low 2 percent interest offered by China.

Last month the sports complex was estimated to cost $4 million to build - almost half of the original $7.7 million estimate.

The relocation and construction of a new ministry of education complex is still estimated to cost $1.6 million. Other work the loan will cover includes the repair and upgrade of existing sports facilities with $600,000 needed for the national stadium upgrade, $1.1 million for general sports facilities, accommodation upgrade costs of $600,000 and equipment hirage of $400,000.

The upgrade of the solid and liquid waste and water supply in Te Puka is estimated to cost $1.4 million - again funded under the loan. 

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