Saturday 13 November 2004

Dunfermline man adopts Enron accounting

I wonder why the government doesn't need to use proper accounting techniques:
Billions of pounds of Government liabilities from private finance initiatives will no longer be listed on a single balance sheet, it emerged yesterday.
I was pleased to note that Tory and LibDem spokesmen are criticising this change in presentation. This quote sums things up nicely:
David Smith, an economist at Willems de Broe, said the move was part of a "remarkable degradation" in the data that is available to judge the Government's financial position. "It is hard to see who benefits from the change, apart from Treasury ministers with something to hide," he said.
A Treasury mouthpiece "declined to comment on the reasons behind the move". I guess he wants to keep his job.

Government accounts should be prepared using the same rigorous procedures that the law imposes on the private sector. Any more of this and I'll start to think that Gordon Brown is angling for a job with the Scottish Executive.

1 comment:

David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Yes, because the civil service was not devolved. It is a complete pigs' breakfast: no one takes responsibility. We need a properly accountable, independent Scottish Civil Service. You are correct: currently civil servants in Scotland can do much as they please, remote from the gaze of their London bosses. 
-"the Scottish parliament should have managed the ongoing event better" 
I don't think that anyone could disagree with that! 
However, back on the original point about PFI/PPP: I think that the Scottish Parliament has mis-used this dangerous tool much less often than their Westminster colleagues.

15 November 2004, 11:43:19 GMT
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David Farrer
Yes, the original contract was a Westminster one but the Scottish parliament should have managed the ongoing event better. That would include controlling the civil servants who seem to be able to run their own agenda to a greater extent than elsewhere.

15 November 2004, 11:09:50 GMT
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I thought that you agreed that the responsibility for that cock-up lay largely with Westminster and Whitehall decisions taken prior to the beginning of the new parliament in 1999? Eg. the form of contract chosen by Donald Dewar MP, and the serious incompetence of certain senior civil servants.

15 November 2004, 10:48:50 GMT
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David Farrer
I was thinking of the Parliament's budgetary skills as evidenced in a recent building project.

15 November 2004, 08:44:56 GMT
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I agree whoeheartedly (excluding the last sentence). 
This PFI/PPP scandal is going to get bigger and bigger before it erupts from under the carpet the British Government has tried to sweep it under. 
It is like mortgaging yourself to the hilt and then just keeping borrowing and borrowing. One day the bill will have to be paid. 
The Tories opened up a can of worms with the PFI initiative and Labour have exploited the loophole. 
(Sorry for mixed metaphors.) 
What do you mean by your last sentence? That the Scottish Government is even worse?

13 November 2004, 14:26:05 GMT