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Prime Minister John Key raised the possibility of delaying state asset sales this morning.
Speaking on Television New Zealand, Mr Key said his government would have three years to implement its policy, assuming it was re-elected, and that the slump in confidence in global financial markets could delay this.
Mr Key’s National-led government is seeking a mandate at this year’s eleciotn for the partial sale of up to 49% of four state owned energy firms.
The government estimates that between $NZ5-7 billion could be raised from the sales, and this would be used to reduce the government's overall debt, which is projected to rise to 30% of GDP 2016.
The sales are seen as a way of deepening New Zealand’s shallow capital markets, but also as a way of assuaging the international ratings agencies, tow of which – Standard and Poors and Fitch – have New Zealand’s AA credit rating on negative credit watch.
Ministers have always anticipated the sales would be scheduled over a three to five year period, and Mr Key has previously said any delay due to financial market turmoil would be “a matter of months.”
However today he sounded more circumspect.
"In reality, if we're in the fortunate position to be the government post-November 26, we have a three-year mandate - that's a long time in global financial markets...
"Obviously we're not going to be silly about these things, but I'm still confident we can undertake that programme."