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Jones’ pork barrel hands out more opaque cash

Jones’ pork barrel hands out more opaque cash

Another day, another group of companies blessed with taxpayer money from the Provincial Growth Fund – and again New Zealanders are none the wiser about the terms and details, National’s Economic and Regional Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“The Government’s travelling caravan of soft loans and grants has circled back to the Bay of Plenty, with $25 million of funding announced including up to $19.9 million for a deep-water mussel farm near Opotiki. In its previous visit to the region, $38.7 million of funding was unveiled.

“To be clear, National has no wish to attack the recipients or the regions where the funds will be spent. I’m sure everyone getting the money will welcome the investment.

“But as with many of the projects chosen for funding, little commercial detail has been made public, so there is no way of knowing if they represent the best use of the money. We’re still waiting to hear the terms of the $9.9 million cheap loan made to Westland Milk.

“There are more than 500,000 businesses in New Zealand. Many of them may be interested in bidding for cheap cash and many could well make a good case for economic benefit and job creation.

“New Zealanders shouldn’t have to take the Government on trust that the $3 billion fund will be dispensed with proper due diligence. We can’t be sure it will follow the basic principle of not privatising the gains and socialising the losses.

“We’re all in favour of expanding aquaculture but the Government could explain how it can fund an Opotiki mussel farm while the Government’s support group, the Greens, have opposed similar developments in other parts of the country.

“Mr Jones could at least do New Zealanders the courtesy of telling us if the mussel farm is getting a loan, a subsidised loan, an equity investment or a gift from taxpayers.

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