Press Release – New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union
The Taxpayers’ Union is criticising Greater Wellington Regional Council for not bothering to find out how much ratepayers have lost in CentrePort’s property developments damaged in July’s Cook Strait earthquake.
The Port’s borrowing is underwritten by the Council, which means that ratepayers will foot the bill if CentrePort can’t cover any shortfalls in its property investments. Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union, says:
“We’ve long been concerned that CentrePort has a privileged position of having a debt guarantee from Greater Wellington Council. The guarantee allows the Port to borrow at a cheap rate to fund property development, while ratepayers underwrite the risk. It subsidies the Port’s property development to the detriment of Wellington’s CBD.”
“We asked the Council earlier in the year how much last year’s Cook Strait earthquakes cost, the lost income and any impairment of assets. Amazingly the Council and its investment company, which is supposed to provide oversight of CentrePort, didn’t have the information.”
“We understand from BNZ that its staff are still not fully occupying the BNZ building, some 8 months after the Wellington shake. Despite that, the Regional Council has still not taken the prudent step of finding out how much the Council’s investment company has lost or continues to lose. It may be that insurers are taking the financial hit, but the Council do not appear to have even asked.”
“It’s bad enough that ratepayers are subsiding Wellington office property, but the Council should at least be keeping an eye on what are obvious risks.”