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Asset sales costs reach $26 million mark - Greens

Published: 10:18AM Sunday February 17, 2013 Source: ONE News

The Green Party says that the cost of the Government's state asset sales scheme has already reached $26 million.

New figures released by Treasury reveal that more than $16 million has been spent on asset sales policy, with the state-owned enterprises which are set to be partially sold having spent over $8 million.

Green Party co-leader Dr Russel Norman says that once the Government pays for the costs associated with the water rights dispute arising from the proposed asset sales and the bonus paid to Mighty River's CEO for guiding it through, the planned sale brings the total to $26.1 million.

A total of $106.3 million has been budgeted for the asset sales programme, which plans to raise $7 billion by selling up to 49% of its stakes in four power companies.

Pending any further legal action, shares in Mighty River Power are expected to go on sale in March.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman is calling the scheme "an extravagant waste".

"National's wasted $26 million of public money on asset sales that New Zealanders don't want - and they haven't even sold anything yet," said Norman.

"This is an extravagant waste of taxpayer funds from a government whose constant refrain is that there is not enough money to pay for desperately needed policies," he said.

Norman added that the figures do not include Treasury's estimate of 100 million dollars a year being added to the deficit.

However, Prime Minister John Key is standing by the asset sale scheme, saying that he thinks the companies will perform better under the mixed ownership model.

"I think we'd like to get there. I think those companies would perform arguably better or give investments for New Zealanders," he said previously.

Meanwhile, ppponents to the sale, including the Green Party and the Labour Party, are holding a "signathon" this weekend as part of their goal to reach 400,000 signatures and force a referendum on asset sales.

The Keep Our Assets petition has 370,000 signatures so far.

"The huge support for the referendum shows that Kiwis want our energy assets to stay in public ownership," said Norman.