National are pressuring the Waitangi Tribunal to come up with findings this month to enable the float of Mighty River Power to run to schedule in September – or at least to enable the Government to proceed while appearing to have given due consideration to the Waitangi Tribunal.
The Government says it will decide early next month if it will go ahead with the sale of Mighty River shares this year, whether it has a detailed Waitangi Tribunal report on Maori water rights or not.
Finance Minister Bill English and State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall yesterday told the tribunal to speed up the delivery of its findings on a Maori Council claim into water rights by a month.
The ministers said leaving the tribunal decision until next month as scheduled would affect the Government’s entire asset-sales programme.
Mr English said he had asked the tribunal to deliver its findings by August 24 because the Government would need to make decisions by the first week of September if it were to proceed with the partial float of Mighty River Power this year.
He said the Government would make its decision then whether it had the tribunal’s findings or not, “on the basis of all the information available to us at that time, including the Waitangi Tribunal’s memorandum of July 30″.
Difference of opinion on timing:
In that memorandum this week, the tribunal requested the Government delay the Mighty River float until it delivered its findings.
It said such a delay should have little or no impact on the timing of the planned float.
But Mr English said this was incorrect. Delaying beyond the first week of September could mean the Government lost the chance to make the initial public offer this year and could result in a delay to the entire asset-sales plan over the next two years.
The September report from the tribunal was to be interim, it may have to be a bit more interim.
Bill English put out this press release yesterday:
Government seeks information from Tribunal
02 August 2012
The Government has written to the Waitangi Tribunal seeking further information on the Tribunal’s findings, recommendations and supporting reasoning with respect to its inquiry into national fresh water and geothermal resources.
Ministers have also clarified timing constraints under which the Government is operating for the proposed sale of a minority shareholding in Mighty River Power in 2012, Finance Minister Bill English and State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall say.
“The Government wants to consider the Tribunal’s recommendations and the reasons behind them as part of its decision on the Mighty River Power share offer this year,” they say.
“As we have said, we want to act in good faith and carefully consider the Tribunal’s recommendations.
“However, we appreciate the Tribunal’s interim direction on 30 July did not make substantive findings on any of the issues it identified. So we have today asked the Tribunal to provide its recommendations and reasoning by 24 August.
“To proceed with a Mighty River share offer in 2012, ministers would need to make decisions by the first week of September.
“We would do this on the basis of all the information available to us at that time, including the Waitangi Tribunal’s memorandum of 30 July.
“However, ministers would welcome the opportunity to consider the Tribunal’s detailed findings, its recommendations and its reasoning, which we do not have at this stage.”
The Government has also clarified the timing constraints it faces in making decisions about proceeding with the Mighty River Power share offer in 2012.
“The Tribunal expressed a view that there would be minimal or no delay to the share offer if it reported on stage one of its inquiry by the end of September,” the ministers say.
“However, there are a limited number of windows each year in which a share offer can take place.
“Delaying a decision beyond the first week of September and losing the 2012 window for the offer would have significant consequences, not only for the Mighty River Power offer, but also in delaying the rest of the share offer programme over the next two years.
“We have said consistently that we would welcome timely recommendations from the Tribunal. With that in mind, we have asked the Tribunal whether it is able to provide its recommendations and supporting reasoning by 24 August, so ministers are able to consider them alongside all other relevant information.”