The Opposition has again got the Government's Provincial Growth Fund in its crosshairs, this time taking issue with the secrecy around the details of loans to private businesses.
National's Paul Goldsmith has called for more transparency, but Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said the loans' details would be provided in due course after legal advice has been sought.
Goldsmith's criticism was sparked by today's announcement that $7.5 million would be loaned to support the development of luxury hot pools in Methven.
Jones said this would create 120 jobs, adding an expected $162 million to the area's economy over 10 years.
This brings the total amount of Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) money loaned to Kiwi businesses to almost $50 million.
Goldsmith said the fact the Government had provided these loans to businesses was "questionable".
"But the more questionable thing is opacity, the lack of transparency around the nature of the subsidies."
He was critical of the fact that basic information, such as the loan's interest rates, had not been made public.
"Because we don't know what we're dealing with, I think it's an untenable situation."
But Jones said there has always been a level of commercial confidentiality around these types of loans.
"The reality is when you construct the loan and you finalise the terms and conditions – that takes a bit of time.
He said the Government had to respect the commercial confidentiality of the businesses involved.
But he said the details of the loans would be available "in good time".
"We have to respect the commercial interests, as well as providing public information."
Jones said what the Government deems to be an "appropriate level of public information" would be made public, after legal advice had been taken.
Asked when that would be, he said a number of the loans were being processed "as we speak".
The PGF provided a $10 million loan to Ruapehu Alpine Lifts for a high-speed gondola, another $10 million to the Barton NZ for a Garnet Project in Ruatapu and a $9.9 million loan to Westland Milk.
Another collective $10 million was loaned to other, smaller projects for a total of just under $48 million.