“We acknowledge the hard work that the MOP team has invested in putting this plan together, but the critical thing is that every detail of the plan must be thoroughly scrutinised,” Maoate said in a statement on Saturday evening.
“The overall question whether it is in the best interest of our people and country must be addressed - and addressed meticulously.”
His call for caution follow a story in Saturday’s CINews in which Merchant of Paradise developer Tim Tepaki announced that MOP will this week release its “integration development plan” for the outer islands and part one of its two-part “Paradise Prosperity Plan.”
It would also be handed on to the Chinese government through China’s ambassador in Wellington, New Zealand, Tepaki said.
The plan, which relies on $300 million of funding from China, involves projects including an international golf course on Atiu, a fishing centre on Penrhyn and the setting up of new air and sea services for the Pa Enua, has attracted widespread criticism from figures in the tourism industry. However, none have come forward to publically discuss MOP’s plans, and the government has also been silent on the project. It relies on a massive increase in tourism in a country whose infrastructure is barely able to cope with the 160,000-plus tourists who visit the Cook Islands now says Maoate.
Tepaki has said in the past that the increase in visitors would come mostly from China and the United States.