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Jim's Deal No Bargain For The Warehouse

Jim's Deal No Bargain For The Warehouse

ACT New Zealand Finance Spokesman Rodney Hide today said he felt sorry for retailing giant, The Warehouse, for losing the $75,000 Business Growth Fund grant that Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton had trumpeted last year.

"Following my complaint, the Auditor-General has `found that the grant did not meet the size or growth criteria set out by the Cabinet for the [Business Growth Fund]'. As a result, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise - formed by the merger of Industry New Zealand and Trade New Zealand - has cancelled the grant. The Warehouse must now repay to NZTE the $21,090.42 already paid out to the supplier companies," Mr Hide said.

"The Warehouse has been badly treated, and discovered that Jim Anderton and this Government is not `where everybody gets a bargain'.

"Mr Anderton attacked me bitterly last year when I questioned why taxpayers had to pay $75,000 to The Warehouse. It turns out that he was wrong and I was right - I have the Auditor-General's report to prove it.

"So much for Labour's policy of picking winners. It's proving a bad deal for businesses and taxpayers. What is even more disturbing is how the Government responds when caught out.

"Industry New Zealand business development senior advisor Richard White was reported in the Herald, on October 31 2002, as saying that all `the suppliers meet the criteria'.

"The Minister told Parliament on November 7 2002, in answer to Parliamentary Questions, that `The Warehouse acted as a representative of a network of companies, all of which meet the business growth criteria'.

"When I questioned Industry New Zealand CEO Neil Mackay, on December 5 2002, he told the Commerce Select Committee that `The group of companies that The Warehouse is representing does meet the criteria, yes'.

"At the time, I accepted the officials' and the Minister's assurances. I was wrong to do so. A dark and sinister pattern is now emerging with this Government: Ministers and their officials cannot be taken simply at their word.

"The officials and the Minister will need to correct the record and explain themselves to Parliament. They should also apologise to taxpayers for wasting their hard-earned money," Mr Hide said.

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