Kiwi Responsibility (Incorporated)
Back in May of this year, I wrote a report with a former Finance Minister that had a long title. It was called "In a New World, New thinking is Required: Why the Prioritization of Resources is Crucial to New Zealand’s Economic Recovery in the Wake of Covid-19". I believe that we were the first to specifically refer to the Warehouse Group, which claimed around $68 million under the wage subsidy scheme. However, our beef was with the NZ Treasury and Finance Minister, Grant Robertson, who we believed should have designed the scheme better. Indeed, companies like the Warehouse have a legal responsibility to their shareholders to maximize value so if this kind of public subsidy is on offer, then why not accept it?
Today it has been announced that the Warehouse is repaying the subsidy. The company had no obligation to repay. An apology for wasting public money should be coming from the NZ Government. Private companies acting completely within their legal rights have no reason to be sorry. The Warehouse should be applauded for an incredible act of social responsibility, which has gone a long way to rectifying the shortcomings of a scheme whose design was botched in the first place by our public officials in Wellington.
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