Today, R0b asked a question that many people have been posing: just how many times does the National Government think it can spend the “profits” it’s “made” by selling off viable money-making New Zealand assets?
So I had a wee dig. Bear in mind, I’m not an economist; I’m just a citizen trying to find out where her money’s being spent.
On the other hand, I help run a household, so apparently this makes me just as qualified as the next person to determine whether the Nats are good economic managers.
Let’s start with the income. 2012 Treasury forecasts suggested a price of $6 billion for selling off 49% of Mighty River Power, Meridian, Genesis Energy and Solid Energy, and part of the publicly-owned chunk of Air New Zealand.
The proceeds of these sales go towards the “Future Investment Fund” – which isn’t really a fund, more a guideline.
Now that’s just a Treasury forecast, so put what faith in that that you wish.
What we have in hand is $1.7 billion from the sale of Mighty River Power. (And this was at the low end of the initial $1.6-1.9b estimate of its value, so let’s add that fact to any niggles we feel about Treasury’s forecasts while we’re at it.)
Somewhere along the line this has become $2.1 billion added to the Future Investment Fund.
Now, to the spending.
National has committed from the Future Investment Fund:
- Up to $1.43 billion for the Auckland Central Rail Line
- $1 billion to modernise schools (including the $50 million out of $136 million announced for upgrading school broadband)
- $1 billion into health, including $426 million to redevelop Christchurch and Burwood hospitals and the $88 million announced in Budget 2012)
- $900 million to the Christchurch rebuild
- $400 million to “water priorities” (irrigation)
- $250 million for KiwiRail
- an unknown amount for KiwiBank – but Bill English confirmed that asset sales proceeds would be the source of any new capital for KiwiBank (source) and Kiwibank’s CEO estimates $200 million is needed
- $80 million for the creation of the Advanced Technology Institute, whatever that is
Phew, that’s a mighty list of stuff!
A mighty list of stuff costing $5.26 billion dollars. Out of $6 billion dollars we don’t even have yet.
And that’s ignoring the Government’s earlier statements about reducing our debt by $6 billion. That’s ignoring the fact that the Future Investment Fund only funds capital expenditure, not operating expenditure.
That’s ignoring the millions in the cost of consultants and advertising already spent trying to hike up the price of Mighty River Power.
If we were a household, we’d be sticking a fancy new fridge on hire purchase while promising to put the Xbox on Trademe some time next month, honest, I reckon it’ll pull in $600, and doing nothing about the credit card debt we racked up taking the lads out for Friday night Jagerbombs. Oh, and that new fridge? Uses three times as much electricity, but we haven’t put aside any extra cash for the power bill.
Does this look like good economic management to you?