Taxpayer money will be spent on an abattoir that could be gifted to Saudi Arabia – part of a deal done partly to secure a free-trade deal with Gulf states.Opposition parties have labelled the deal a bribe after a $4 million payment to the Al Khalaf Group was revealed and that the farm and all animals and equipment would be owned by the group.
However it has now emerged that a key part of the farm kit-out – a state-of-the-art abattoir – could be gifted to the Saudi Government.
A briefing paper among hundreds of pages of redacted documents released by the Government notes that all 2000 slaughterhouses in Saudi Arabia are Government-owned.
‘In this case, the Saudi Government appears prepared to allow Al Khalaf Group to build an abattoir that would then be gifted to the Saudi Government and leased back to the group’ the document notes.
A spokeswoman for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise – the agency overseeing the farm project, said the abattoir design had been completed – but construction had not begun.
The New Zealand contribution was expected to be one third of the estimated total costs she said and the abattoir would be owned by the Al Khalaf Group.