Why the state should not own commercial companies

Stuff reports:

Finance Minister Bill English says he still doesn’t know if is viable, raising the prospect of the company collapsing.

The Christchurch-based coalminer is negotiating with a group of banks in a bid to reduce its $320 million debt.

This has delayed the release of its financial results due in late February until it can be certain they “reflect a true and fair picture of the company’s position”.

It followed the Government’s extension of financial support to Solid Energy in 2012, and the company striking a deal with its lenders in late 2013 to effectively write off $75m in debt.

But on Tuesday, English warned that even after 18 months of being regularly briefed on the company’s finances, he was unclear if there was a core business that could be salvaged.

I don’t want my taxes wasted on bailing out state owned companies. I want to choose which companies I invest in, not have the Government do it for me.

We should not own Solid Energy, just like we shouldn’t partially own three power generating companies. They are all commercial enterprises that do not need to be owned by the Government, and present risks to taxpayers if they make bad investment decisions.

The role of Government should be to set the rules for the industry and promote competition – not to own the companies.

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