Nfld. & Labrador

Report putting price tags on N.L.'s public assets delayed

Multinational bank Rothschild and Co was supposed to submit the report to the Newfoundland and Labrador government in March.

The Rothschild and Co. report was to be submitted in March

Finance Minister Siobhan Coady said in December the Rothschild and Co. report would be filed in March. (Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada)

A report commissioned to put a price tag on some of Newfoundland and Labrador's assets won't be ready when the government said it would be.

In December the provincial government contracted Rothschild and Co. to determine the value of the province's oil and gas holdings, the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, Marble Mountain and registries like the Motor Vehicle Division, ahead of a potential sale.

That report was supposed to come in March, but a statement from Finance Minister Siobhan Coady's office said Rothschild is still working on the review. 

The $5-million US report was commissioned after the release of The Big Reset — an economic recovery plan developed by the provincial committee led by Moya Greene. Among other things, it recommended selling off the assets now being looked at by Rothschild and Co.

"The review of provincial assets is the first comprehensive review of assets in the province's history," reads Coady's statement. "This will be a broad review and there are no decisions made at this point."

Will it be public

Coady has not committed to making the report public once it's finished. In her statement she reiterated that "the contents of the review are unknown at this point and are expected to include commercially sensitive information."

It's a stance that PC finance critic Tony Wakeham disagrees with.

"It is the taxpayers' money that has been spent on this report, and for the minister of finance to hide behind some kind of secrecy that might be in the report is — it just doesn't cut it," he said.

"It will potentially have a significant impact on the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and we're expected just to sit back and say, 'go ahead' and not be informed,'" said Wakeham.

Interim NDP Leader Jim Dinn said he doesn't think the provincial government should have the option to not release the report.

"If you want people onside, you just can't have an inside group privy to the information. It's got to be in the public," he said. "If it's in the public good and the public interest, then release it publicly and have that dialogue."

Jerry Earle, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, said he doesn't accept the argument that the review could contain information too commercially sensitive to release.

"We have workers out there on edge, wondering what's in this, whether they'll have a job tomorrow, whether they'll have to uproot and leave Newfoundland like so many Newfoundlanders have done and move to another part of the country," he said.

Coady's statement did not say when the report is now expected to be completed.

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