G8 leaders must listen to public, say FDs

UK finance directors have warned the G8 leaders meeting in Edinburgh this
week to listen to popular opinion and eliminate third world debt.

Some 58% of FDs who took part in this week’s Accountancy Age/Reed Finance Big
Question expected world leaders to deliver financial change for Africa. Only 37%
of FDs were sceptical, saying this week’s meetings would be just a talking shop.

Karen Botwright, financial controller of Royal & Sun Alliance, said: ‘The
government ignores public sentiment like this at their peril.’ Neil Morling, UK
finance director of Ricardo, added: ‘Even their skin is not thick enough to
withstand the backlash of not delivering against promises already made.’

But the results suggest FDs are less confident now than a month ago about the
prospects for change. Then 90% said debts should be cancelled.

‘If creating awareness of poverty was the sole purpose then I believe it
would be highly successful,’ said one FD, who asked to remain anonymous.
Jonathan Ager, FD of Orwell Truck and Van, said: ‘The momentum is already there,
with the European countries trying to make a difference, but I suspect that the
US government will not be influenced by the Live8 proceedings.’

Another FD said comments made after failed EU budget negotiations and George
Bush’s pledge to pursue an agenda ‘best for our country’ would halt action. ‘The
interests of American businesses and French farmers will be put first,’ he said.

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