Several correspondents to this paper have recently expressed well-founded concerns with the council’s proposal to engage in financial market speculation as a means for raising income. This is an extremely worrying proposal and requires much further information and much better informed assessment than has so far been provided. The council’s response that it is now “too late” to raise questions is totally irresponsible. It is never too late for good financial management and it is vital that ratepayers’ views and interests are properly heard and respected on this matter.
We all know the sad history of council over-spending. This proposal breaks the “golden rule” of Local Government New Zealand that councils “only borrow for the purposes of investment in infrastructure and fixed assets”. It is also relevant that Ka¯ piti councillors and staff have absolutely no expertise in financial markets. It is therefore essential that someone ensures that ratepayers financial interests are fully represented and protected in such decisions. Presumably the mayor and council have sought and obtained the full endorsement of the Minister of Finance (including the Treasury), the Minister of Local Government and the Office of the Auditor General to this proposal? That would seem to be, at the very least, a sensible requirement before undertaking what could well prove to be yet another foolhardy investment.
An independent appeal is being made to these guardians of our financial system. Let’s at least hear what they have to say before this goes any further.
DAVID WEBBER FORMER CHAIRMAN, KAPITI ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT