Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Only the wealthy benefit from this one

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The shares in Mighty River Power look like being a jolly good investment. And the Government has made the threshold very low in terms of the buy-in.

Analysts say $1000 is about as low as you can go in terms of shareholder investment before it becomes uneconomic and, in theory, there will be many people who can scrape together $1000 so they can feel like they're participating.

But in reality most people are struggling to get by and most people, especially the mums and dads so beloved of the Government, are paying off mortgages.

Every budget adviser in the country will tell you it makes more economic sense to pay off your mortgage with any extra money that you may have, rather than invest it in shares.

So the people who will be buying up shares in Mighty River Power will be the fund managers of the KiwiSaver schemes and people with disposable income. All well and good - the Government says we need the money that will be generated from the sale of shares in the state-owned asset to fund essential infrastructure that will benefit us all.

But it's the loyalty scheme I have a problem with.

If I cannot afford to buy shares, I'm going to feel ever so slightly pissed off that a large chunk of the taxes I pay will be going towards buying up more shares in Mighty River Power to reward the rich buggers who invested early, for holding on to their investment for three years.

The loyalty scheme seems to be a sop to those New Zealanders who believe that overseas investment is a modern version of the xenophobic Yellow Peril notion that terrified Kiwis half a century ago.

It's essentially an expensive PR exercise.

If we, as a nation, are strapped for cash, and I accept that we are, spending $500 million of taxpayer money on shares for people who already have the discretionary income to dabble in the share market just doesn't seem right.

- Herald on Sunday

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