No privatisation agenda: Key

00:37, Jul 28 2009

A review at Meridian which could result in up to 100 jobs being cut is not a step toward privatisation, the Government says.

State-owned enterprise Meridian Energy started a strategic review of its core operations in June at a time when the Government made it clear it wanted profit and productivity improvements from the SOEs.

Concerns were raised that a restructure of Meridian's 700-strong workforce was preparing the ground for privatisation.

Prime Minister John Key said that was wrong.

"There is no privatisation agenda for Meridian, nor is there for any other SOE," he told reporters.

Finance Minister Bill English said the company needed to better protect the taxpayer's investment, not waste money; "and get back to the basics of providing low cost energy to New Zealanders".

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He confirmed the company was undergoing restructuring.

"It's needed because for the last 10 years that company has been a political favourite of the last government, it hasn't had to control its costs, and that's flowed through into high electricity prices for consumers."

Mr English said the government was "sticking" to its commitment no public assets would be privatised this term.

He said the government would make a decision before the next election on whether to maintain that policy.

NZPA