The Prime Minister, the Honourable Mark Brown, launched the country’s updated National Infrastructure Investment Plan (NIIP) on Thursday night at the National Auditorium.
The purpose of the NIIP is to outline the country’s priorities and plans for major infrastructure projects and strategic infrastructure investments over the next 10 years. It is a vitally important document, identifying 136 candidate infrastructure projects with a combined total budget in excess of $685million.
Speaking to a gathering of MPs, government officials, public works representatives, community leaders and members of the public, Prime Minister Brown described the new document as a revision and continuation of the first NIIP, launched by himself as Finance Minister in 2015 as part of our 50th independence celebrations.
“Investing in our country’s infrastructure is like investing in our people – they are one and the same,” said Prime Minister Brown, emphasising the significance of this new NIIP.
“Good national infrastructure – considered, thoughtfully planned, and effectively carried out – forms the foundation of any developed nation. Not only that, but in times such as these in particular, investment in infrastructure acts as a much-needed stimulus, creating jobs and boosting economic growth.”
Looking back on the original NIIP launched in 2015, the Prime Minister said now was an appropriate time to reflect on the country’s infrastructure achievements over the past six years.
“We have achieved much of what was outlined in our inaugural NIIP, crafting landmark projects like Te Mato Vai, the Renewable Energy installations on our Pa Enua and the Manatua Cable, as well as maintaining and developing key civil infrastructure like roads, bridges, airstrips, harbours, government buildings and the like.”
Discussing some of the planned major projects identified in the new NIIP, Prime Minister Brown singled out the Rarotonga Sanitation Project, aimed at addressing ongoing issues in the lagoon at Muri, and the Vaikapuangi Centralised Government Building Project.
“These are both large projects, with large price tags, spanning many years – both strategic investments that will give back to the community over many generations,” he said.
With an eye to the future, the Prime Minister also stressed the importance of the public and private sectors working in tandem and in sync where necessary, “to ensure that we deliver on each and every one of these important projects”.
In closing, Prime Minister Brown offered his thanks to “the many people who have contributed to the creation of this new NIIP.”
“First and foremost, meitaki atupaka to our Infrastructure Committee, to our development partners, to the Pacific Regional Infrastructure Facility for their valuable assistance, and to the many public servants and private sector partners who have contributed.”
“We have exciting times ahead of us. I look forward to sharing more with you all on what we have achieved and what we will achieve in the months and years to come.”
Also speaking at Thursday night’s launch event were Chief of Staff Ben Ponia; 17-year-old Apii Enuamanu student and CIIC intern Aumai Teiotu; Sean O’Sullivan of the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility, who consulted on the new NIIP; and Infrastructure Committee Chair Michael Henry, who described the NIIP as a “living document”, to be monitored, reviewed, and updated quarterly.
“The 2021 NIIP is our plan. It is a plan which has been developed by the Cook Islands, for the Cook Islands and will be delivered by the Cook Islands. The NIIP is not a glossy document, intended to rest on agencies’ reception desks – it is a living document,” said Henry. “Regular monitoring of our progress is essential.”
“I would also like to reinforce the Prime Minister’s and the Chief of Staff’s message that government cannot deliver this infrastructure plan alone. Only with the combined and collective efforts of many, the public and private sectors, donors, landowners, specialists, the labour market, and the community, young and old, will we be able to deliver this plan.”
“On that basis, the Infrastructure Committee intends to hold more detailed workshops with the private sector and donors on the NIIP, to share in more detail the plan and how we can work together to deliver it.”
“This is an exciting time to be living in the Cook Islands. I would like to thank the numerous agencies who have come here today and setup exhibits to showcase their infrastructure projects, like the Airport Authorities with their runway slab replacement project, To Tatou Vai’s water infrastructure and TAU’s renewable energy projects, and the many other exhibits. Meitaki atupaka.”
For those members of the public who wish to view the NIIP, both abbreviated and full-length versions of the NIIP are available online at the websites of the Office of the Prime Minister, the Office of the Public Service Commissioner, Ministry of Finance and Economic Management, and the Cook Islands Investment Corporation.