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A $7.5 million loan from Shane Jones to privately owned luxury hot pools in Methven leaves more serious questions hanging over the Provincial Growth Fund, National’s Economic and Regional Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“The hot pool funding brings total loans from the fund to $47.8 million. Taxpayers remain in the dark about all of them – no details have been given that would show the level of risk involved or how much of a discount they’re getting on commercial borrowing rates.

“We wish them all the best. No-one can blame businesses for accepting cheap loans or grants and the solar power-heated hot pools will be an added attraction for Methven. But there are 534,933 businesses operating in New Zealand who would no doubt appreciate such help. Why are these any different?

“The Minister also needs to explain why he is shovelling more money out the door than the applicants sought. In this case, we understand the thermal pool operator asked for $2 million and Jones’ Independent Advisory Panel affirmed the sum, yet he’s more than tripled that to $7.5 million.

“Mr Jones is struggling to find viable projects that will be ready by 2020 for him to use as an electioneering tool, so when he does, he’s more than tripling the amount going out the door.

“Although the Government has enjoyed many photo ops from the Provincial Growth Fund, only 38 of the 166 announced projects have received any form of payment so far. And at last count based on MBIE’s own figures, just 54 jobs have been created.

“It’s sloppy, fast and loose spending from a Minister who is quickly realising that his Provincial Growth Fund is not delivering to expectations.”

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