£13 bn to fat cat profiteers

Re. Tomos Livingstone article, 7th January

St Athan project is not a £13 billion Training Centre

The £13 billion is not investment, nor is it the cost of the Defence Training Centre.  It’s the cost of the 30 year mortgage for private companies to provide training courses, in collaboration with some 650 MoD staff.

Most of the £13 billion goes in salaries of 735 trainer staff, in site management, in fees and payments to banks and in profits over the 30 years.

The training college is to cost only around £500 million (housing for MoD staff and trainees comes on top) so is far from the mega-investment that politicians claim.

Brigadier Harking, Project Team Leader, in evidence to the St Athan Inquiry starting 12th January says the PFI was “appropriate”.  The House of Lords into the “Private Funding Initiative” means the MoD can no longer claim PFI is good value.  

The National Audit Office memo to PFI costs 23% more than funding the same investment through government borrowing.  The Lords questioned how PFI was made to look cheaper than public borrowing through manipulating the "public sector comparator". Ex-Treasury official, Sir John Gieve let out: "That was a pretty crude rule, I always thought, and it was one we were trying to peddle for all it was worth."

With Britain’s burgeoning debts and the black hole in MoD funding, are Labour still refusing to reappraise the affordability of this £13 billion mortgage?  If they refuse to admit economic failures, including PFI, let’s conclude they’re unfit to govern.  

Max Wallis

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