COOK ISLANDS SEEK TO EXPAND LOAN PROGRAM

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New Zealand, donors approached for help

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Feb. 1, 2011) - A government funded agency in the Cook Islands is seeking aid money to extend a loan scheme that’s helped outer island businesses weather the financial crisis.

The Business Trade and Investment Board has given 21 firms, mostly Aitutaki tourism companies, soft loans totaling US$420,000.

The Board’s CEO, Terry Rangi, says the loans have helped some borderline businesses from collapse and he’d like to see the three percent loans extended to other small and medium enterprises.

"I’d like to see it opened up to Small Medium Enterprises (SME) here in Rarotonga. I’d like to amend the criteria and possibly look at exports, look at import substitution. Renewable energy could be another area that could be targeted."

Terry Rangi says the agency’s already met with New Zealand aid officials will be talking to other donors about extending the scheme.

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