All of NL’s assets must be screened, says finance minister, but opposition says ‘enough is enough’

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The Liberal government is providing $ 5 million to conduct an independent review to assess all of the province’s assets to determine their value and inform future decisions. (Sarah Smellie / The Canadian Press)

Newfoundland and Labrador’s finance minister said the provincial government would conduct a review of the province’s assets to determine their value and decide whether to keep them – but the opposition says the review is a waste of time and money.

Siobhan Coady said on Tuesday that the review would be undertaken by Rothschild and Co., a multinational banking and financial services company based in France, which will examine the province’s assets to determine their value and file a report in March.

Coady said the review would cost the province around $ 5 million, but she would not confirm the report would be made public, due to the potential presence of “commercially sensitive information.”

The purpose of the review is to be informed about the strengths of the province in order to make the right decisions for the long-term future of the province, she said.

“I think it’s a very responsible and prudent thing to do,” Coady said. “No decision has been made at this point. We will receive their considerations… and then determine our way forward from there.”

Finance Minister Siobhan Coady said the new report was expected by the end of March. (Patrick Butler / Radio-Canada)

While all assets are under the microscope, Coady said, the review will focus on the province’s oil and gas holdings, records, Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation and Marble Mountain.

All four were mentioned by name in The Big Reset, a five- to six-year plan tabled by the Prime Minister’s economic stimulus team, led by Moya Greene, who recommended everything from tax hikes to spending cuts. to the rationalization of the public service to respond to the problems of the province. financial problems.

While the provincial government says the report is still under review, Coady said the Rothschild report serves a different purpose.

“Now it’s a question of examining the value of our assets… to determine how best to optimize them for the province,” she said.

“We are trying to settle our debt and our deficit… We do not want to continue to burden our children and our grandchildren.

Following the announcement, PC financial critic Tony Wakeham said he wondered why the review was underway.

“Why do we have to go out and spend an extra $ 5 million if the Greene Report … was going to be their economic plan?” ” he said. “Why not share the information with the people of the province?”

Conservative finance spokesman Tony Wakeham said the province should release the findings of the Greene report before proceeding with another review. (Peter Cowan / CBC)

In a press release, Jerry Earle, union president of the Association of Public and Private Sector Employees of Newfoundland and Labrador, said he believed the report was made to justify privatization.

“This government is talking about making tough choices… but what we see here is the same tired approach that has failed jurisdiction after jurisdiction,” he said. “We’re pouring millions into these consulting firms to find predetermined solutions while they buy $ 500 dinner parties for fundraisers. Enough is enough.”

It wouldn’t be that we didn’t support our offshore activities; it means we have a debt problem that we want to fix.– Siobhan Coady

The Greene report recommended that the government sell all of its oil and gas stakes in the project when oil prices improve, as well as the sale of the Bull Arm manufacturing site, but Coady said the recommendations were still outstanding.

“Is it time for us to consider selling this asset?” ” she said. “Or is it a great investment and should we continue? [That] that is what will be answered. “

Newfoundland and Labrador energy company Nalcor owns a 10% interest in the Hibernia South project, which is an extension of the main Hibernia project. (SRC)

If Rothschild recommends that the province move away from oil and gas, Coady said, the province will need to strike a balance.

“We always support our offshore operation. It might be safer for us Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to take the money from our offshore assets and pay off the debt, right? ” she said.

“It wouldn’t be if we didn’t support our offshore; it means we have a debt problem that we want to solve.”

Acting NDP leader Jim Dinn has said he doesn’t believe the province wants to sell off its oil and gas assets.

Acting NDP leader Jim Dinn does not believe the province will sell its oil and gas stakes. (Patrick Butler / Radio-Canada)

“I don’t feel there is a strategy. Where is the long term plan? Dinn said.

“They aren’t interested in bold thinking. I think they’re probably hoping that there will be some suggestions to support what they’re already planning to do.”

Dinn said he believed the results of the exam were “predetermined”.

“It almost seems like we have the answers, they have the answers they want, now they just want the evidence to back them up in reverse order. I think in a lot of ways it’s embarrassing.”

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