28 Feb 2013

English concedes asset sales hit on books

10:33 pm on 28 February 2013

The Finance Minister has conceded that the Government's books could be worse off if it proceeds with its plan to sell off part of State-owned power companies.

But Bill English told Parliament the partial sale of shares will help boost the capital markets and impose private sector disciplines on the SOEs.

During Question Time on Thursday Green Party co-leader Russel Norman asked Mr English whether the half-year economic and fiscal update revealed the operating balance before gains and losses would be $441 million worse off over the next five years if the sales went ahead.

Mr English said it did, but argued that other measures show the Government would be better off.

He warned against putting too much confidence in the forecasts, saying last year the Treasury had predicted that Solid Energy would make a profit and got that spectacularly wrong.