Amey may be struggling to come to terms with the implications of public/private partnerships on the London Underground, but many finance directors still think private investment is the only way forward for many public services.
Of the FDs polled for this week’s Accountancy Age/Reed Accountancy Personnel Big Question, 46% think the private sector should still be involved in providing public infrastructure services, while only 31% believe this responsibility should remain with the government.
‘The private sector demonstrates far more commercial expertise than the public sector, which would be an advantage in such projects,’ said one FD. David Anderson, FD of Geo Adams Products, said that the current problems relating to partnership deals had not been caused by the private sector.
Even some of those against private sector involvement in traditional public sector areas do not cite the current issues as the reason behind this.
‘The government is not a trustworthy business partner,’ said one FD.
‘It pulled the rug from under Railtrack and will do the same again.’
Bart Baljon, FD at VIP, said a lack of government spending since the Second World War meant that too much money was needed for PPPs to be effective.
‘Private shareholders wouldn’t be able to receive a decent return on their investment,’ he said.
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