Infrastructure minister Shane Jones says the New Zealand Transport Agency should have the ability to raise debt like government housing organisation Kainga Ora. Early this year the government housing developer had its debt cap of $4.05 billion raised to $7.1 billion so that it can borrow to build more houses, faster.
As a Crown entity, big borrowing by Kainga Ora stays off the government’s main balance sheet and therefore isn’t included in its self-imposed budget responsibility rules.
Speaking at an infrastructure conference this morning, Jones said NZTA needed to borrow money, despite the government’s $12 billion ‘New Zealand Upgrade’ infrastructure programme.
“We have the ability in Kainga Ora to go and borrow in the debt markets, we do not have that, as I stand here, with NZTA. I think those of you who are more experienced professionally than I am can see, NZTA operates on $4.5 billion per year, which is likely to change as transport modes change.
“The point is, for those of you are who are long-term thinkers, is what changes are there that we ought to be driving. We may very well have to come for you in terms of how NZTA is funded and can raise debt and really fuel a 20, 30, 40, 50-year pipeline,” he told the audience of about 100.