'There is a stark reality' to N.L.'s staggering population challenges, Al Hawkins says
During the 2015 provincial election, the Liberals said they'd be able to sell off $50 million a year in government assets, but CBC Investigates has found they have yet to get anywhere near that target.
CBC News used access to information to obtain a list of assets worth more than $10,000 that have been disposed of by the government since Dec. 1, 2015.
The province reported receiving roughly $1.3 million in revenue.
Most of that came from two big sales.
The Sir Robert Bond Ferry brought in $615,000, but cost the province more than a million dollars in pre-sale security costs while it was tied up at a government wharf.
The old Hoyles Escasoni complex was also recently sold off for $650,000.
The remaining cash came from the sale of much smaller items, such as two fire trucks, a backhoe and a salt spreader.
Crown land sales add $16 million
The minister of transportation and works said there are other assets that will be disposed of soon.
He indicated there have also been about $16 million in Crown land sales, which still leaves government well short of its target.
"There are targets, sometimes we set targets high, sometimes they're medium targets, sometimes low targets, again it's a target that we need to work towards and we'll continue to do that," Transportation and Works Minister Al Hawkins told CBC News.
During the election campaign, now premier Dwight Ball was criticized by the PCs for being overly ambitious.
The Tories claimed that bigger assets like Nalcor or the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation would have to be sold to bring in $50-million every year.
Ball rejected those claims as "fear-mongering," days before the vote that swept the Liberals to office.
"We're not looking at revenue-generating assets. We look at this as any business would, any community would," Ball said at the time.
"If there's something that's not being used, or not of value to this government then we will look at moving it."
In a statement, a government spokesperson pointed out that province has also saved $1.6 million by reducing leased space, but did not explain why the asset sales have been so much lower than those pre-election projections.
Cabinet secrecy blocks release of review
Government did its own review of real estate assets but refused to release any of those records through access to information, citing cabinet confidences.
Hawkins insists that even though they have yet to find the money they were looking for in asset sales, there are other areas where they didn't expect to find savings.
"A lot of times we have to rework some of the projections that we had, and there are areas that we are finding efficiencies that we would not have thought," he said.
"I'm very, very confident that we are doing the right things."