OSLO (Reuters) - Norway’s opposition Labour party will not agree this year to a request by the country’s $935 billion wealth fund to invest in unlisted infrastructure projects, frustrating for now attempts to widen its investment horizon and improve returns.
The fund, the world’s largest, invests in stocks, bonds and real estate abroad but had wanted to put money into unlisted infrastructure, by becoming an owner or co-owner of projects such as roads, bridges or renewable energy.
“The debate is ongoing (in the party) but we are not going to conclude for an opening now,” Marianne Marthinsen, Labour’s finance spokeswoman, told Reuters.
Norway’s minority government said in March it was against allowing the fund to invest in unlisted infrastructure for the moment. Labour said at the time it was disappointed and that it would take up the question when a white paper on the fund was debated in parliament.
Marthinsen’s comments suggest Labour has concluded that it would not take up the question this year, ending the possibility that the fund be allowed to invest in such projects for now.
The fund said in 2015 it would like to invest up to five percent of its value in unlisted infrastructure.
“What is very important for us is that we must have good enough control organs in the central bank,” Marthinsen said, referring to the way the fund is managed by a unit of the central bank.
Allowing the fund to invest in new asset classes should wait until after the June publication of a report by a government-appointed commission led by former central bank governor Svein Gjedrem examining the supervising regime of the fund, she said.
“The Gjedrem report is an important milestone so that we can talk about the overall structure. We would like that in place before we move forward,” said Marthinsen.
Some non-governmental organizations were disappointed.
“We know it is important to start investing in green infrastructure now because the new report by the Global Commission on Economy and Climate says that these investments must start within 2-3 years,” Haakon Grindheim, a political adviser at the Norwegian Church Aid NGO, told Reuters.
Several NGOs favor a change to help finance clean-energy projects such as wind or solar farms, a market valued at $1.1 trillion according to a February report by the U.S.-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
Editing by Alexander Smith