Treasury must have been pleased to get one of their own, Bill English, as its head.
Now they can tell other departments how they should be run, oversee massive cuts to them – all safe in the knowledge that they’ll continue to have fat budget increases and not be judged by any performance criteria they might apply to others.
Except, oops, the Deputy Auditor-General has been poking her nose in. And Bill’s Treasury hasn’t been doing such a sterling job.
And not just on their murky crystal ball predictions, constantly telling us National’s ‘aggressive recovery’ is just around the corner. No, on something that cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme was set up in haste as needed by the Global Financial Crisis, but then Treasury, despite lots of near identical schemes in other running in other countries, failed to learn or move on from “reactive and crisis management mode”.
“They didn’t move to a more strategic approach to think in broader terms, what they were doing, what were the issues they had to manage. They did eventually but perhaps not as soon as they could have,” [Deputy Auditor-General] Ms Smith said.
“As a policy ministry, where was the policy work? Where were the policy expertise to say ‘actually we’ve got something unprecedented here, is there a better way of going about it?’.”
It’s pretty damning.
As a result Finance Companies and their customers knew they could use the advantage of their high interest rates, with no risk to anyone but the taxpayer. The outcome? South Canterbury Finance and 8 others folding and a $2 billion taxpayer bill. Still, at least their customers got all their high-interest payments…
Treasury basically buried its head in the sand as to the obvious problem, not even asking the Reserve Bank for information. Bill English appears to have shown no lead – he doesn’t appear to have requested any information or shown any oversight of Treasury.
Which is surely the point of a Minister of the Crown.