Govt looks at selling unused SOE assets

  • 19/08/2015
Finance Minister Bill English (Simon Wong)
Finance Minister Bill English (Simon Wong)

The Government is looking at raising money from the sale of unused land and under-utilised assets held by state-owned enterprises, Finance Minister Bill English has confirmed.

Treasury documents suggest about $2 billion could be raised and Labour says it's a backdoor attempt to continue the asset sales programme.

"National promised before the election not to sell more assets," Labour's finance spokesman Grant Robertson said today.

"This paper indicates there is an extensive list of assets held by SOEs that are now on the chopping block."

Mr English says he doesn't expect the government's businesses to carry assets they don't need.

"They should dispose of it and give the money back to the government or use it themselves," he told reporters.

"We're not going to do any more share sales, we're not going to sell any businesses."

The Government says unused or under-used land that could be considered for sale would be in areas that weren't suitable for housing development.

There's a separate exercise under way to find government-owned land in Auckland that can be used for housing development.

Mr Robertson is suspicious about the Government's intentions.

"The entire asset sales programme last term raised under $5b," he said.

"Raising almost $2b in more sales in this new round is extremely significant. This isn't just selling some bits of unused land."

Mr Robertson questioned Mr English in Parliament about the amount that could be raised, and whether Treasury's estimate of $2b could be achieved.

"Who knows - over five to seven years that may be possible," Mr English said.