Tories, NDP pan progress of Liberal $50M asset sale pledge

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Tories, NDP pan progress of Liberal $50M asset sale pledge

Opposition politicians are criticizing the Ball administration's efforts to sell off unused government assets — something the Liberals suggested could pour $50 million per year into the provincial treasury.

The reaction comes in the wake of a CBC Investigates story that revealed the province has yet to get anywhere near that target.

Progressive Conservative MHA Barry Petten called it "another broken promise" and "a colossal failure."

Petten said he's brought this issue up in the legislature before, without getting answers.

"We asked that question before: Why wasn't there an analysis? Could you show us the analysis? … They just picked the $50-million figure out of mid-air and put it in there as an election promise."

Petten said government should "revise the targets and come clean with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador."

NDP: number came from 'Ouija board'

NDP Leader Earle McCurdy told reporters that the $50-million figure was a "fictional" number.

"What was interesting to me was that the premier talked about exceeding expectations," McCurdy told reporters.

"So I don't know if that suggests they knew at the time that figure — that I believe came from a Ouija board — was actually ridiculous to begin with."

He said that financial projections in the Liberal red book of election promises were "just made up out of whole cloth."

Transportation and Works Minister Al Hawkins rejected that criticism.

He cited more than $1 million in pre-sale security costs footed by taxpayers to keep watch at the Sir Robert Bond site before the Liberals sold the vessel off last fall.

That security contract dates back to the prior Tory administration.

Hawkins contrasted those costs with Liberal efforts to reap revenues.

"We are fiscally responsible in what we're doing," Hawkins told the legislature.

As CBC Investigates revealed on Wednesday, the province has reported receiving roughly $1.3 million in revenue from asset sales. 

There has also been $16 million in Crown land sales, which still leaves government well short of its $50-million annual target.

The Liberals took office in December 2015.