ACT land sales ‘classic monopolistic behaviour to maximise revenue’

The ACT government’s land sales profits have risen almost four-fold in just four years, leading a former senior Treasury official to question the policy behind the change.

While forward estimates show a potential easing of the dividend laid out by Chief Minister Andrew Barr, former ACT Treasury executive policy director Khalid Ahmed, also an affordable housing advocate, put little stock in the estimates.

Former Land Development Agency annual reports show that from 2013-14 to 2016-17, the agency’s dividend – or net profit – handed to Treasury’s coffers rose from $67 million to $259 million.

While the dividend continued to rise, Dr Ahmed said fluctuations in the difference between the dividend delivered, and the government’s official targets, suggested the land agency held back sales in 2013-14 to boost profits in future years.

Across the four years, in 2013-14 the government received $67 million against a $79 million dividend target, with the dividend jumping to $78 million in 2014-15 against a target of $49 million.

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Source: The Canberra Times