Friday, 7 February 2020

Finance Minister disowns rail network revaluation

“Under questioning at the Finance and Expenditure Committee this morning, Finance Minister Grant Robertson disowned the dubious revaluation of Kiwirail in last year’s Government Financial Statements”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Those Financial Statements recorded a $5.3 billion dollar increase in the value of the rail network, inflating the Government’s surplus from $2.2 billion to $7.5 billion. The increase resulted from recording the estimated cost of replacing the rail network rather than the value someone might actually pay for it.

Under questioning from Mr Seymour, the Minister said: ‘Let me be clear, I didn’t advocate for revaluing the rail network this way’.

“The Minister would not explain whose idea it was to revalue the rail network, and would not endorse the $7.5 billion dollar figure as the Government’s real surplus. He even went as far as to say ‘there is no real surplus.’

“Under further questioning, Treasury officials said they could not measure what benefit the public would now get from the rail network, only what it would cost.

“A rail network is an important asset, but the Government’s treatment of it has left us with no idea what value it provides, and no incentive for its operators to add value, given there’s no longer any attempt to even measure its value.

“It’s understandable that the Finance Minister wants to distance himself from this decision. The difficulty is that the taxpayer cannot.”