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Desperate money grab to keep Ruataniwha afloat

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company’s decision to borrow $4 million to keep the Ruataniwha project afloat is a case of throwing ratepayer’s good money after bad, says Labour’s Water spokesperson Meka Whaitiri and Napier MP Stuart Nash.  

“This bridging loan, which goes before the Council tomorrow, is nothing short of a desperate bid to keep the Ruataniwha going in the face of serious environmental and economic concerns ,” says Meka Whaitiri.

“Instead of seeking more money from investors and ratepayers the council should be telling us just when the spending stops. Its time the council addressed the real concerns of the environmental groups who got the project sent back to the drawing board. 

“It’s just staggering that the council would want to spend millions more on top of the $12.2 million it has already spent. Remember nothing has been built and not a sod has been turned. We don’t know how many jobs, if any, are going to be created in the communities who are paying for this apparent folly,” says Stuart Nash.    

“Its sobering to remember that there has been a low level of interest from farmers to any sign up for irrigation and already two major potential investors have walked away in the past year. 

“The council has admitted that the project is now 20 months beyond the target date it was working to last year. The investment company must accept the fact that the Ruataniwha is mired in problems and stop spending ratepayers and investors’ money on this white elephant, “ says Meka Whaitiri.