I've got a message to John Key - I won't be getting in at the front of the queue on any state asset sales shares!
I (like many other so called Mum and Dad investors) don't have $1000 to spare. I have only just finished paying off an overdraft I had. I am now (as has been instructed by Bill English) am going to put my new surplus to good use. However, I won't be using it to buy shares in assets I ALREADY own. I will be putting it towards downpaying some other debt, into KiwiSaver and perhaps am already eventually thinking about buying my own asset (a house).
In fact, a recent survey disclosed that the average Kiwi household had only $1000 in savings. The survey found that this was due to the average household having to find the money to fund things like food, clothing, housing costs (i.e. mortgages) and children's expenses. Household budgets are, no doubt, going to be further squeezed through the inevitable power price rises that will result from partial privatisation. As has been pointed out by many Labour, Green, Alliance and Mana party media releases, these power price rises will mean that no Kiwi family will be able to afford shares in a power company, let alone those whose profits they will be helping to subsidise via their power bills.
And who exactly will the Mum and Dad investors be?
Most likely the wealthy and upper middle class types who live in suburbs such as Fendalton, Remuera, and Maori Hill. While the PM today said that shares will be available to all New Zealanders, I really doubt that the hard pressed working class households of South Dunedin, Sydenham, Porirua, Otara and Mangere will have enough money to buy share parcels when they are merely struggling to survive. I predict that many ordinary middle class Kiwi households will be similarly hard pressed to stump up the cash too.
Despite the PM's proposed loyalty scheme, I forsee that eventually these shareholders will be greatly tempted to sell their shares at a profit to the first foreign institutional investor who wants to snap them up. From there, the formerly state owned assets will simply add to our balance of payments deficit as dividend income will increasingly go to these offshore investors.
Besides, Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman recently published figures suggesting that the share loyalty scheme will cost taxpayers (that's right you and me) nearly $400 million. Given all that I have said above, that will amount to another massive taxpayer subsidy to the wealthiest New Zealanders who retain their shares onshore. And Norman also pointed out that taxpayers will lose out from the deal as this loyalty bonus will add $400 million to the projected fiscal deficit.
Politically, I know what National is trying to attempt here. They are trying to replicate the Margaret Thatcher-era share float privatisations in the UK that, supposedly, created a new class of ordinary middle class shareowners whom it is argued, in turn, gave her and her Tory Party three successive electoral majorities in the 1980s. However, many Britons have also seen the long-term damage that asset sales have done there. In New Zealand, previous Labour and National governments have sold assets to private institutional and corporate investors and never offered share floats, thereby creating massive unpopularity for themselves in the process. That is why National is now attempting to bribe New Zealanders to buy the assets they already own.
I predict that National will trumpet these share floats to be a huge success. Of course they will be but, as Greens co-leader Norman saliently predicted as well, most of these shares will flow to the already wealthy and financially endowed. I share the predictions of not only Norman but many other opponents of asset sales in this regard that it will be hard pressed Kiwis who will suffer most from these privatisations while the rich and foreign investors will get away with it again.
And this means, John, that no New Zealander will support these asset sales no matter what financial bribes you place in front of us.
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