Monday, 8 June 2009

How To Find An Extra £8bn - Fast!

They've been desperately downing the Kool Aid in Downing Street, those who are left. No more polite chat while queuing for the tea urn during cabinet meetings, cup and saucer in hand. Now they're swarming around it at each serving, ripping the lid off and plunging their cups in.

And while we are highly amused by Gordo's ghastly predicament, we are no longer to be distracted from his latest, clunking sleight of hand.

The TaxPayers' Alliance has all the gory details, but at the heart of the matter is the fact that the UK will now officially have two sets of books, as the FT faithfully reported in mid-May while we were still goggle-eyed by certain accounting matters of a more personal nature.

One set of books will be produced under international financial reporting standards to fulfil the Treasury's "promise" to record PFI projects against government's capital expenditure totals; and another will be prepared under European standards, which doesn't bake in the cost of PFI.

I do not need to point out which set of books the Treasury uses for budgetary purposes... Nor do I need to remind you that even the off balance sheet deals are getting bailed out with taxpayer's money.

So, for a start, 60% of PFI projects will remain off balance sheet. But that's not all:
Nick Prior, head of government and infrastructure at the consultants Deloitte, said: "This clarification is extremely welcome for the future of PFI and PPPs. Government departments should now be able to bring forward projects that have been delayed because of uncertainty over budgetary arrangements."
That's £8bn worth of "uncertainty" to me and you, but not even a line item for Darling, if and when he gets up on his hind legs to deliver the next budget.

Let's hope MPs don't forget to mention the fact...
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