Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Crowns should look to Kiwis

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Re: Huge loss for Canada Post amid cost-cutting moves (Aug. 28). Two major corporations, ubiquitous in the daily lives of Manitobans, seem to need all the help they can get for their future survival. They are, of course, Canada Post and, yes, dare I say it, Manitoba Hydro. In my opinion, both of them might look to gain some guidance and help from New Zealand, Canada's kid cousin across the Pacific.

New Zealand Post, for example, recently bailed itself out from the inevitable business demise of snail mail by starting a "KiwiBank" to market new retail banking services through its hundreds of high-street outlets nationwide.

As a result, New Zealand Post is no longer the commercial basket case it was rapidly becoming. It is instead a refreshing and successful new competitor for the main New Zealand clearing banks.

As for Manitoba Hydro, surely it could benefit from a serious structural review, and then restructuring, to enable some competition and real transparency: to keep costs down and corporate decisions up to contestable scratch.

About two decades ago, New Zealand successfully restructured its power industry and has simply not looked back. Now, retail power companies successfully compete, as do businesses in generation (mainly government-owned) -- and regulated monopoly "lines companies" deliver all transmission services.

Just as the New Zealand model for GST has been successfully adopted by Canada, why couldn't these other major Kiwi achievements to cure its ailing Crown corporations, in power and post, be helpful to us, as well?

PHILIP BLAIN

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 31, 2013 A16

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