Millions of dollars in asset sales cash earmarked by the
Government for new schools and hospitals will go instead on
obscure projects like repairs to Parliament's leaky roof and
on assisting the US Government's controversial global
crackdown on tax evasion, Budget documents show.
In this year's Budget, the Government announced $1 billion in
spending from the Future Investment Fund, the "notional" pool
of $4.7 billion raised from selling half stakes in power
companies and a sell down of Air NZ shares.
But although the Government said asset sales cash would be
used to fund "high priority future investment" in assets like
schools, hospitals and broadband, documents released this
week show spending on items that appear to fall well outside
Parliamentary Service received $7 million for "Crown Capital
work" and recently confirmed much of that would go on
extensive repairs to Parliament Building's exterior stone
cladding, windows, doors and roofing to remedy leaks.
Three years ago Parliamentary Service "reprioritised" $5
million of its budget to repair the Beehive roof and windows
which were also leaking.
The Budget documents also show just under $5 million this
year has been committed to implement New Zealand's compliance
with the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (Fatca). The
act requires overseas financial institutions including New
Zealand's banks to submit information about their customers
who may be subject to US taxes to the US Internal Revenue
The law is detested by many expat Americans and may affect a
significant proportion of the estimated 20,000-30,000 US
citizens or tax residents living in New Zealand.
The money in the Budget is being used to fund Inland Revenue
to collect the information before passing it on to the IRS.
Wellington IT consultant Simon Titheridge, who fears his
financial records will be harvested and sent to the US
because of the joint bank accounts he holds with his US born
wife, said the Fatca money was "very poor" spending.
"It's appalling that the Government has sold these assets
supposedly for the benefit of taxpayers but is instead using
it to comply with the requirements of a foreign government."
Labour's state owned enterprises spokesman Clayton Cosgrove
said the Government had "conveniently neglected to identify"
what he called a "grab bag" of spending funded by asset sales
cash in the Budget, including $23 million to pay for New
Zealand's subscription to the World Bank.
He said the money was being used as a "slush fund" to cover
up holes left in the Government's revenue resulting from its
2010 tax cuts.