Media Release MFEM COVID-19

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Office of the Financial Secretary

Ministry of finance and economic management

Released 29 February 2020

Media Release

mfem COVID-19

Government has established COVID-19 as a notifiable and dangerous condition under Schedule 2 of the Public Health Act (2004). In anticipation of the arrival of COVID-19, government has embarked on a series of preparatory activities including travel restrictions in order to further distance and protect the Cook Islands population from the COVID-19 epicenter and other areas of concern.

The Financial Secretary Garth Henderson stated that while we hope for the best outcome from global efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19, we need to plan effectively for the worst. I am comfortable that we have in place the financial resources that government agencies will need to put in place measures to protect our communities. Government agencies may be required to reprioritize their work programs and related budget allocations, in addition will have access to the Operational Contingency appropriation and if need be, the Executive Council may approve funds from the public account for unforeseen needs under the Constitution S70(3)(B).

MFEM continues to review the rapid and changing dynamics of the global spread of COVID-19, its impacts on global trade, including tourism and how countries are addressing the threat. Close attention is being given to how this is likely to impact on the economy and wellbeing of our communities. The future remains uncertain and this is likely to be reflected in the forthcoming forward estimates for the Supplementary Budget in March.

Henderson further stated that in the event of a global economic downturn, anticipated by many, healthy reserves and the recent establishment of the Stabilization Fund partnered with continuing sound fiscal and economic planning will provide a solid platform. Today I met with the Chamber of Commerce on general discussions on government plans to address COVID-19. Solid relationships with all our stakeholders, private and community sector, consistent and frequent communications will ensure the country can address effectively the broad range of threats presented by COVID-19, that not only include health, perhaps more importantly, impacts on the economy, tourism, employment, access to public services, cost of imports and others.

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