Eight days ago I posted about how National was strip mining Housing Corporation by being paid $118 million in dividends when the need for social housing was so great. Well hang onto your hats because this news is so much worse.
The Prime Minister must explain why Housing New Zealand is set to pay the Government $454 million in dividends in the next financial year – four times more than expected, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.
“Housing NZ’s Statement of Performance Expectations features a single reference to a new item called “capital contributions to the Crown” (page 15).
“The $336 million the Government will receive in 2016 is in addition to the $118 million annual dividend it takes out of the Crown agency.
“This appears to be tricky accounting to hide the fact National is asset stripping Housing NZ.
“It is obscene for the Government to be pumping nearly half a billion dollars out of Housing NZ when there is a desperate shortage of housing, and kids are dying in cold, damp, mouldy state houses.
“Ministers Bill English, Paula Bennett and Nick Smith have been caught in a web of lies over their deeply unpopular and flawed policy.
“John Key needs must tell the public where this $336 million comes from.
“Instead of selling off state houses to third party providers who don’t seem to want them, the Government should be repairing the ones they own and building more to house thousands of vulnerable families who need homes,” Andrew Little says.
Here is the table.
Notice the new line “Capital contributions to the Crown”. Basically the Government is stripping increases in value as a further dividend.
There is no fanfare accompanied with what is a significant contribution to the Crown’s books. Obviously the Government is looking everywhere in its attempt to post a budget surplus.
John Key was asked about the further payment in Parliament this week.
The exchange went like this:
Andrew Little : Does it help Housing New Zealand to do the best it can when he is already taking $118 million out of Housing New Zealand, and is he planning on taking any more out this financial year?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : If the member is talking about the dividends that are paid, then under the Crown Entities Act all surpluses have to be returned to the Government. That is the law. We have never requested more than that. That has been in the order of, in recent times, about $100 million off an asset base of $20 billion. Last year alone we spent $398 million on maintenance and upgrades—40 percent more than the highest year under Labour.
Andrew Little : In light of that answer, why does Housing New Zealand’s statement of performance expectations show the Government taking another $336 million out in this financial year than capital contributions to the Crown?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member would need to direct that to the Minister responsible for HNZC.
Looks like another entry for BLiP’s list.
National has tried to construct this argument that the increasing dividends have to be paid and are nothing more than a sign of increased efficiency. But this new capital grab belies this excuse. And the claims of huge maintenance spends are nothing more than tenants money being used to maintain the homes they are living in.