6 Nov 2011

English admits projected price for asset sales no guarantee

6:19 pm on 6 November 2011

The National Party's finance spokesperson has admitted proceeds from the partial sale of state assets might not be as great as his party hopes.

Bill English was commenting on Television New Zealand's Q+A programme on Sunday which featured a ONE News Colmar Brunton poll showing 68% of those surveyed oppose the policy and just 26% in favour. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1%.


If re-elected, National will proceed with the partial privatisation of State-owned energy companies Genesis Energy, Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power and Solid Energy and reduce the Crown's shareholding in Air New Zealand.

The party hopes to raise between $5 billion and $7 billion through the partial sale of these assets, with proceeds helping to support essential services such as schools.

But Mr English admits the sale price for up to 49% of these assets is not certain.

"Well, there's no guarantee - bear in mind we're talking here about three percent of the Government's assets, that our assets will continue to grow and our dividend flow will continue to grow. With respect to market conditions, we get to make decisions as we go along."

National leader John Key says it would be naive not to be concerned about the turmoil on global markets and the effect that could have on the New Zealand economy.

The Labour Party reiterated its policy not to sell State-owned assets.

Finance spokesperson David Cunliffe told the programme on Sunday that in the short-term, Labour would have to borrow to meet government commitments, but would be better off over the long-term.

"We will return to operating surplus in the same year as National and with the capital gains tax flows coming through we will get to a zero net debt position quicker than National."

But Mr English says in the case of the big power companies, partial asset sales will provide new capital to allow growth and the possible sale of new energy technologies overseas.