John Key’s visit to the Pacific

Last week, John Key visited four Pacific Island countries: Tonga, Samoa, Niue and the Cook Islands. He spent one day in each country.

New Zealand gives financial aid to each of these countries and one reason for the visit was to find out what each country needs. When John Key was in Tonga, he told the King of Tonga that New Zealand would increase the financial aid from $12 million last year to $16 million this year. The money is mostly for tourism and police.

In Samoa, aid will increase from $10.5 million to $14 million next year. This money is for education and health but also for training the New Zealand army in Samoa.

Niue, like Samoa, has a special relationship with New Zealand although it has its own government. New Zealand feels responsible for helping the 1,000 people who live there. Last year the New Zealand government gave $21.5 million. Some of this money was for a new hospital and power station.

The Cook Islands received $11 million last year from New Zealand and this year we will give $14 million. The money is to help businesses and tourism. John Key promised financial aid for Air New Zealand flights which bring tourists from LA to the Cook Islands. Another important agreement was to exchange tax information so that New Zealand businesses cannot hide money in the Cook Islands. This has happened in the past.

Countries which hide money so that people do not pay tax are called tax havens. The President of the United States wants to close down tax havens. Our government would like to do this also.

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