Today, dear reader, I am reproducing a number of letters to the editor of the UK newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, from some of the paper's readers, which were published in the online edition of 27th January, 2011.
I do hope that it will catch the eye of the powers that be, particularly the Hon. Alban Bagbin, Ghana's water resources, works and housing minister - so that he can get his ministry's technical advisers to take a good look at some of the UK's public finance initiative (PFI) contracts, and see if Ghana too could benefit from utilising PFI's, for the provision of infrastructure. Please read on:
"SIR – I am a private sector developer of PFI projects, with intimate knowledge of more than 30 schemes. It has quickly been forgotten how bad the public sector was at procuring infrastructure. The first PFI hospital was delivered in 1995, on time and on budget. The last acute hospital delivered by the NHS, before PFI was introduced, was delivered three times over budget and three years late.
PFI contracts contain an obligation on the private sector to maintain assets in a first-class condition at all times. Failure to achieve this causes deductions in payments. We all see on a daily basis how maintenance standards on non-PFI assets are often allowed to slip, with the consequent decay and disrepair that follows. A PFI road with coned-off lanes, and no one working in them, is a rare sight, as such closures affect a PFI company’s bottom line. Potholes mean more payment deductions, if they are not quickly repaired.
Finally, much of what is paid to a PFI operator is not inflation-indexed, so a pound paid out in 2040 will be worth less.
SIR – Thanks to PFI (report, January 25), much-needed roads, hospitals and schools have been built – hundreds of essential projects that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford.
According to the National Audit Office, the overwhelming majority of PFI schemes have been delivered on time and within budget. Moreover, they are not just about delivering a building and then walking away. Contracts include maintenance and management over the full life of the project.
In a period of austerity, PFI schemes and new models of finance can play a critically important role in improving and maintaining our public services.
Confederation of British Industry
SIR – The blame for expensive, or now unwanted, PFI deals should be laid at the doors of Treasury officials and their advisers. It was they who left PFI as the only option open to local authorities, health trusts etc to renew public service assets.
PFI is recognised as a good way of procuring public service assets by more than 70 countries worldwide, if prudently used. Yet again, however, our government has been shown to be lacking in judgment.
SIR – Should we not be asking which politicians and civil servants were responsible for agreeing to such outrageous arrangements as you report?
Perhaps they should also be asked to reimburse the taxpayer some of their incomes for the very poor service they have given to us.
Darwen, Lancashire "
Culled from the Daily Telegraph.