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RAROTONGA, 24 FEBRUARY 2020 (COOK ISLANDS NEWS) — The Cook Islands Government plans to ask Parliament for more money to get through the rest of the year.

Finance minister Mark Brown said his officials were working on a Supplementary Budget for next month’s sitting.

The additional money was mainly for the multi-million dollar Rarotonga water upgrade project, Te Mato Vai.

This would forward money from next financial year’s budget, to enable them to progress Te Mato Vai projects in the 2019/20 year.

Te Mato Vai received $9 million (US$5.6 million) in the 2019/20 Budget, with another $5 million (US$3.1 million) earmarked in the next financial year.

The $90 million (US$56 million) project is nearing completion of stage two, which involves establishment of new pipe network and significant upgrades to 10 of the island’s 12 water intake sites, introduction of new treatment, and storage facilities to manage demand more effectively.

Brown said the Supplementary Budget would not affect the allocations of most ministries.

He was unable to confirm the additional sum sought, but said it would be similar to last year.

In 2019, government increased the total appropriation from $268 million (US$169 million) to $274 million (US$173 million) after adding $5.3 million (US$3.3 million) through a Supplementary Budget tabled and passed in March.

It sought an additional $2.7 million (US$1.7 million) to support various agencies to improve services, and $2.5 million (US$1.5 million) to support the infrastructure in Rarotonga and the Pa Enua.

Last year Mark Brown said despite these changes and amendments, the government still managed to put forward an operating surplus of $19.2 million (US$12.1 million).

“We are still living well within our means with this government delivering positive operating balances and expenditures that benefit every member of our society,” Brown said at the time. PACNEWS