BUSINESSDESK: Treasury secretary Gabriel Makhlouf turned down several invitations to schmooze with private sector high-flyers in the first six months of the year, limiting the risk he will be accused of corporate cronyism.
Mr Makhlouf accepted dinner invitations from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the governor-general in the six months ended June 30, but shied away from other offers, according to his latest expense claims.
He declined offers of theatre tickets from Craigs Investment Partners, which is one of the firms involved in the government's mixed-ownership model programme, and Deutsche Bank, and said no to drinks with the board of Bank of New Zealand, and didn’t attend a farewell for KPMG's Andrew Dinsdale.
Mr Makhlouf’s cautious social calendar suggests he has taken up the baton from predecessor John Whitehead, who shared $80 of pizzas with Finance Minister Bill English and Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard when he departed.
New Zealand's Debt Management Office, a unit within Treasury, got into strife last year when it emerged staff accepted 118 gifts from investment banks, including lunches, dinner, theatre and sports tickets.
The ensuing row prompted Treasury to audit its gift and hospitality guidelines and ultimately led to tougher rules to avoid the impression it was too matey with the private sector.
Mr Mahklouf also turned down dinner with officials from the Ministry of Science and Innovation and a dinner date with the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman David Wootton.