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Students have their say on assets sale

The Government’s proposal of partial sale of assets of some State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) has led to widespread debates all over the country and the extent to which the topic has motivated secondary students to voice their opinions was evident at a recent competition.

The ‘ANZ Massey Economics Challenge 2012’ witnessed the assembly of a number of students from secondary schools in Palmerston North and Albany debating the issue in the presence of a number of Government officials.

The annual competition, held simultaneously at the Manawatu and Albany campuses of Massey University on August 31, had teams of three students arguing for and against the chosen topic, “New Zealand’s mounting debt: Are asset sales the answer?’

The debate followed an Economics quiz based on their NCEA curriculum.

Each winning team received a Massey scholarship of $2000 towards full-time study in the College of Business. The runner-up teams received a $1000 scholarship.

1. Albany competition winners Andy Wang, Jennifer Xue, and An Ran Chen from Macleans College

1. Manawatu competition winners Dan Marks, James Penn, and Te Rangi Albert from Wanganui High School

Hard questions

Macleans College won the contest held in Albany for the second consecutive year. Andy Wang, Jennifer Xue and An Ran Chen, who represented the institution, said that while the sale of state assets was not a perfect solution, it offered the most suitable way of reducing the government’s debt in the short term.

Judge Dr Philip Stevens, head of economic research at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, said that the Macleans College team nudged out the runners-up from Westlake Boys with their strong foundation of economic knowledge.

“This year’s presentation question shows you the kind of questions we have to deal with in economics. The questions are complicated, and the winning team used the economic tools at its disposal to weigh up the pros and cons, and then systematically arrived at its solution,” he said.

Sell & Buy

Yishen Zhou, James Rankin, and Devrath Soni from Westlake Boys High School recommended selling minority stakes in state-owned power companies and using the funds generated to purchase majority stakes in key privately owned power companies.

Simon Chapple, Principal Advisor at the Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry, said that the judges agreed that the team produced the most creative response to the question, and had come a very close second to Macleans College.

Dan Marks, James Penn, and Te Rangi Albert from Wanganui High School won the Manawatu campus competition.

Massey University Associate Professor Rukmani Gounder said that the team gave an exceptional presentation.

“They did very well in bringing in new ideas, drawing on international comparisons, and thinking outside the square,” she said.

A panel of judges comprising academics, practitioners, and policymakers, including government officials from Treasury and the Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry evaluated the contestants.

(Pictures Courtesy: Massey News)

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