Regina, SK: The Frontier Centre for Public Policy has today released a new paper entitled A New Crown Review: An Idea Whose Time Has Come. The paper urges a pragmatic, non-ideological review of Saskatchewan’s Crown Corporations.
In this policy backgrounder, Sheldon Schwartz, a former Crown Investments Corporation vice-president, makes the case for a new review of Saskatchewan’s Crown corporations. He argues that it has been more than 15 years since the last review, and that five years after he first proposed it, a new Crown Review is now an idea whose time has come.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall recently stated in a CBC interview that he would like to provide Saskatchewan voters with a clear policy on the privatization of the province’s commercial Crowns before the next election. Premier Wall said that “It can't be about ideology. . . It has to be what's pragmatic", adding that he would welcome a "rational" public discussion about Saskatchewan's Crown corporations.
Today’s report calls on the provincial government to establish an independent public review of Saskatchewan’s commercial Crown corporations to provide the public with the information necessary for such a discussion. Schwartz writes that such a review should be "based upon rigorous, objective and transparent analysis with open public input and debate".
A new Crown Review should provide answers to the following key questions:
1. For each commercial Crown corporation, what is the current market value of the taxpayers’ equity?
2. Has each of the commercial Crown corporations maintained or enhanced its equity value relative to its private sector counterparts? If not, why not?
3. What activities does each of the commercial Crown corporations conduct for public policy purposes that a private sector counterpart would not do without subsidization? What would be the amount of the required annual subsidy to a private sector counterpart?
4. Which of the commercial Crown corporations have achieved their mandates? For those that have, what is the public policy purpose of continued government ownership? For those that haven’t, why haven’t they?
“A Crown Review would foster informed public debate, and would help the government and opposition parties to develop clear policies on the commercial Crowns. A Crown Review would provide a pragmatic alternative to ideology in assessing the benefits, costs, risks, and continuing public policy purpose of government ownership of the various commercial Crowns, and in deciding which, if any, should continue under government ownership and which, if any, should be privatized,” concludes Mr Schwartz.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sheldon Schwartz was born in Regina, and worked for the Province of Saskatchewan during a career spanning 25 years, including as Assistant Deputy Minister of Finance, responsible for Saskatchewan’s treasury and debt management functions and as the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance and Administration for Crown Investments Corporation, the Province’s holding company for its commercial Crown corporations. He has a Masters degree in Economics from Carleton University, and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. A semi-retired consultant living in Victoria, British Columbia, Sheldon continues his lifelong interest in public policy in Saskatchewan. His article, “Saskatchewan’s Crown Corporations—Time for a New Crown Review”, appeared in The Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy’s Winter 2008 Policy Dialogue.
Download a copy of A New Crown Review: An Idea Whose Time Has Come HERE.
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