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Contractors query govt roading plans

Contractors query govt roading plans

The contracting industry wants the Prime Minister and her advisers to detail the reasons why they want to have a centralised plan for developing roads and other infrastructure.

"The presumption for the past 10 years has been that road funding and project determination would be administered in a manner free of direct political influence because of the temptation for pork barrel politics" said the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Contractors Federation, Mr John Pfahlert, today.

"The central role in road planning has been played by Transit New Zealand in developing a state highway strategy and co-ordinating with the plans of local authorities.

"Further, road funding has been allocated by Transfund according to cost benefit analyses of proposals put forward. This system has provided a reasonable framework for balance between need and resources available.

"It is always worth reviewing the systems we have in place to see if we can improve them. But it would be helpful to know what reasons have been put forward that justify involvement of the Ministry of Economic Development or new government funded bodies.

"The public has been told that changes to transport legislation will introduce public private partnerships -- legal structures allowing private investment in public infrastructure such as roads.

"There seems to be a developing view that private investors will be lining up to invest in roading infrastructure to which the government is unwilling to commit funds. We seriously doubt that will occur. The level of tolls that will be required to make many such roads pay will raise questions over their viability. We predict the numbers of projects that make the grade will be few and far between. "We are aware that the Government is looking to establish a National Infrastructure Council and involving her Ministers and members of the private sector in the process. What we need to know is the process it intends to follow and the reasons for change."

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