COOK ISLANDS SETS UP NEW DISASTER EMERGENCY

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FUND
Trust to help recover essential services affected by disasters

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 29, 2011) – The Cook Islands government has set up a disaster emergency trust fund.

The trust has been set up following the cyclone which devastated Aitutaki in February last year.

Prime Minister Henry Puna says, at the time of the cyclone, government ministries couldn’t front up with money – partly because of the rules governing the expenditure of public funds.

He says the trust fund gets around that problem.

Finance Minister Mark Brown says the fund is for the government’s initial response to emergency situations.

It is to allow government to make sure essential services such as power are re-started as soon as possible, and key areas such as airports and ports are cleared to assist in any recovery.

[PIR editor’s note: Aitutaki was hit by Cyclone Pat in February 2010, and at least 80 percent of house structures on the island were damaged in the 200 kilometer-per-hour winds. Trees, crops, and other infrastructure elements were destroyed. ] The European Union dedicated US$110,000 in aid to the Cook Islands the same month it was hit to be used for emergency relief supplies disbursed through the Cook Islands Red Cross. Nearby Mangaia raised US$5,785 for a relief fund through a volunteer-staffed telethon, with donations coming from an island with less than 600 people. In September 2010, Aitutaki was still recovering from the aftermath of Cyclone Pat, and efforts to rebuild and regenerate lives were characterized as slow.]

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