Friday, July 24, 2020

Louis Houlbrooke: Maori Business Privilege

Tender quota for Māori business

Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta wants a quota of 16% of government spending on roading and construction tenders to be made exclusively available for Māori businesses.

If a Minister was found to be handing out government contracts on the basis of iwi connections, it would be considered corrupt. But Nanaia Mahuta seems to think she can avoid this accusation by enshrining the practice in government policy.

As we told media last year, when the Government issues a tender, its sole concern should be value for taxpayers – not using the procurement process as a chance to do favours for mates or politically-connected businesses.

The concept of 'Māori business' is ill-defined and creates opportunities for corporates to gain unfair commercial advantage over competitors based on loose affiliations with iwi. This policy will also result in lower-quality services as the Government abandons more reliable service providers in order to meet a quota.

Iwi like Ngāi Tahu and Tainui are multi-billion dollar enterprises, and already enjoy a discounted corporate tax rate. They don't need any more special treatment.

Taniwha taxes adding 8% to cost of infrastructure builds:

While trawling through council applications for "shovel-ready" funding, we came across a proposal from the Waipa District Council that allocates eight percent of the total build costs for iwi engagement. When compared to project management costs of just six percent of the budget, eight percent — or $2,000,000 — for iwi engagement is outrageous.

We even double-checked with the Council, and they confirmed the numbers.

​The Council explains the cost saying "mana whenua will be invited to be involved through co-design of some aspects in the proposal and the sharing of iwi narratives of the region." But there's a difference between inviting mana whenua to participate and handing them millions.

Greasing up local iwi so they agree to shoo away taniwha really isn't necessary, especially for a minor package of projects such as toilet facilities and playground upgrades.

We're auditing other councils' "shovel-ready" proposals to determine how widespread these fees are.

Louis Houlbrooke is the Campaigns Manager for the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union.

1 comment:

Ray S said...

Corruption right there, just suggesting that work of any value that will use taxpayer money bypass the tender process is corruption on a grand scale.
The "maori economy" is reported to be worth several billion dollars.
Several tribes have done extremely well since accepting treaty settlements and good on them. That indicates to me that they dont need any special treatment and can fend for themselves in a competitive environment.