Novelist. Author of APSARAS and tales from the beautiful Saigh Valley. First person to quantify spiritual values.

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Tuesday 29 November 2011

Treasury Select Committee looks into PFIs

A fictional account of a brief exchange.

The Treasury Select Committee are interviewing executives of companies involved in PFI or Public Finance Initiatives.
The Chairman welcomed the witness, Mr P Arasite and after a few preliminary questions handed over to A Member, an MP of many years standing.
"In a report in the Daily Planet, they say that last year you took home over five million in wages plus bonuses and other benefits," asked the member. "Is that correct?"
"Broadly speaking, yes," replied the expensively dressed and highly coiffured businessman.
"Can you tell the Committee, what you did to earn such an enormous sum of money?" asked the MP. "People will be intrigued to know."
"I found the investors to put up the money for large public projects such as hospitals and schools. It enables the Government of the day to build these large capital projects today without immediately impacting on the public purse. They can then hoodwink the electorate by saying that they are 'investing' in public services when the next election draws near."
"Thank you Mr. Arasite for that insight," replied the parliamentarian. "Would you agree, that apart from accumulating more cash for your own personal bank account, your work does not, in itself, create wealth? You do not, for instance, make or create something-you merely move money around."
"Well, phrased in those terms, I suppose you could argue that, but ultimately what I do eventually provides work for building companies and others which does lead to job creation and economic growth."
"That may be so, but if you, yourself, don't create wealth," persisted the MP, "then it naturally follows that if you earn a pound, somebody must be losing a pound. When I put this to you, I must add that I'm not against people earning huge sums of money. Good luck to the authoress who wrote books about magic and earned a billion and to footballers who entertain huge numbers of people every week with their skill and sporting prowess. My point is: do you know who are the people who are losing money?"
"No," replied the executive without showing any real interest in the answer.
"Would it surprise you to know that it is likely to be ordinary tax payers up and down the country who will ultimately pay, some of whom can barely afford to live let alone drive around in expensive cars, eat in the top restaurants, reside in the plushest addresses in London. Some like a teacher on thirty thousand a year will have to work for over three years to earn what you take home in a week."
"Is that so," replied Mr. Arasite. "Then it will interest you to know that some of the investors who put money into these projects are Members of Parliament, like yourself. Some of them work at the Treasury and also serve in the Government. There names will not appear on any documents- they are far too smart for that. What do you imagine will the taxpaying public make of that?"

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