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People’s Republic has pledged $10 million loan

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, June 26, 2009) - Government is to source US$1 million (NZ$1,552,098) from the government of China next week to help cover the cost of the Pacific Mini Games.

The decision to ask the Chinese government to sign over some of the grant funds it has pledged to the Cooks was made this week by cabinet and revealed yesterday in parliament.

The extra funding has been sought amid government’s struggle to present a balanced annual budget in parliament this month.

"And I’d like to let the honorable member (Nandi Glassie) and the opposition know that cabinet is still deliberating on how we can come out with a balanced budget," said Sir Terepai.

"We want to make sure that we don’t commit ourselves to overspending because this is crunch time, this is recession time."

Games funding from China already includes a NZ$15.6 million [US$9.9 million] loan for the new indoor sports complex and the upgrade of existing sports facilities. The operational costs are expected to balloon to up to NZ$9.5 million, with just over NZ$3.5 million already budgeted to date.

Finance minister Sir Terepai Maoate told the house that government had been informed through games minister Wilkie Rasmussen yesterday that the Chinese government is now willing to provide an extra million dollars in funding.

Sir Terepai said he had made the request to draw the million from grant funding pledged by China.

Cabinet has approved a proposal for Rasmussen to sign off on the fund next Monday in Wellington with Chinese officials at their embassy.

Rasmussen is reportedly going to be in Wellington on other business and so will be able to complete the new deal.

It is understood that the 2009-10 budget will be tabled on Tuesday, June 30.


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