24 Aug 2012

Govt less bullish about partial asset sales

11:15 am on 24 August 2012

The Government says it is going to have to start making judgments about how much of its partial asset sales programme can be completed in this term of office.

The sale of shares in Solid Energy, is now on hold until its books improve. The company is one of four tagged for partial sale, but was always down the list after the Mighty River, Meridian and Genesis power companies.

Solid Energy has signalled that because of a big drop in the international price of coal price it has to rethink its business.

Finance Minister Bill English says the Government also has to deal with other issues, such as the Waitangi Tribunal report on water rights relating to the partial sale of Mighty River Power, and possible legal action.

Mr English says he is not taking it for granted that the Government will be able to complete the full programme this term.

Labour sees a silver lining

The Labour Party says the poor state of Solid Energy's books may represent a silver lining for the taxpayer.

The party's spokesperson on state-owned enterprises, Clayton Cosgrove, says that in one sense it's a positive development.

"The only good news is for the taxpayer," he says. "Because this has been stuffed up so badly, it's either going to be delayed or, as we now know with Solid Energy, put on hold full stop.

"And maybe, just maybe, if we can get rid of this government, the people could keep their assets."