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Govt tapped firm for interest-free loan

Katherine Rich MP
National Party Economic Development Spokeswoman

18 October 2006

Govt tapped firm on shoulder for interest-free loan

Trevor Mallard has revealed that the Labour Government sought out computer graphics firm Right Hemisphere to offer it taxpayer-funded assistance - not the other way around.

Early last month, Helen Clark announced a US$8 million interest-free loan to the Silicon Valley-based firm, which has a base in Auckland.

National Economic Development spokeswoman Katherine Rich says answers to parliamentary questions reveal Government officials alerted Trevor Mallard to this 'opportunity' to offer taxpayers' money and he personally invited the company to make a formal proposal.

"Many thousands of other Kiwi companies would be delighted to receive a special Government shoulder tap, but aren't so fortunate," says Mrs Rich.

"Not only is Trevor Mallard personally picking winners and side-stepping the processes, but he's obviously determined that only one company should get this special treatment.

"National is concerned by Treasury predictions that this deal with one company could potentially cost the taxpayer $3 million per annum. The Government ignored Treasury advice that the loan had a 'low probability of resulting in net benefit to NZ'.

"And Government officials and ministers shouldn't be searching the country for 'opportunities' to give away taxpayer money, interest free, to companies."

ENDS


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