The province is well on its way to selling a majority interest in Hydro One, and maybe that’s a good thing. After reading Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s Value for Money Audit on the Crown Corporation, it’s clear the organization could be better run, and in theory at least, a private operator would be motivated to find operational efficiencies. Despite management’s crummy decision making, the corporation managed to report a 16% rise in profit in the last quarter on stable revenue. Sounds pretty sweet. In contrast, last week the government announced they were no longer seeking a buyer for the operational portion of the lottery assets. Over the past few months, it had offered to provide a private company the right to run the lottery’s day-to-day operations, develop and market new lotteries and generally offer strategic advice on the entire lottery business. In exchange, the purchaser pays some amount of money. While many expressed an interest, none would offer enough money, so the province shut the offer down.
What kind of business should our government be in? As a provider of an essential service facing no competitors, Hydro One sounds like something needing significant boundaries. So cut to the chase- the Liberals need the money. As Sousa explained, the government is only selling assets where they could earn a good return. In selling the eternally lucrative Crown Corporation, they are trading cash over time for cash now. Let’s hope their math and forecasting skills are good: it’s an uncertain world out there, so when cash comes in now, it had better be put to good use. KG