[article] New Zealand's government is selling a 20 percent stake in the national airline as part of a contentious asset sales policy. The country's stock exchange placed a trading halt Monday on Air New Zealand shares after the government said it plans to reduce its stake in the carrier from 73 percent to 53 percent. At recent prices, the sale would be worth 363 million New Zealand dollars ($302 million). The announcement was expected under a contentious program of asset sales by New Zealand's center-right government. Already this year it has sold minority stakes in two state-owned power companies, raising NZ$3.6 billion. The government says the sales will help it reduce public debt and enable it to spend more on infrastructure including schools, hospitals and roads. Opponents say the program is unnecessary and ideologically driven.