Use council bonds for infrastructure, top engineer urges
Margareta Pagano is a former business editor of the Independent on Sunday who now writes columns and business interviews for a range of publications, including the Independent, Independent on Sunday and London Evening Standard.
Monday 03 December 2012
The Chancellor should encourage local councils to fund new infrastructure projects by using government-backed municipal bonds, according to a top boss at CrossRail contractor URS.
Tom Bishop, chairman of the engineering giant in Europe, Middle East and Asia, said he hoped that George Osborne's Autumn Statement this week will look at alternative financial models such as municipal bonds to bolster investment in the UK's infrastructure.
"There's a lot of pent-up capital out there and investors want attractive homes for their money. Municipal bonds are used by local government in the US to great effect as they give investors a long-term return and help kick-start the local economy," he said. "In California they have been used to help finance local schools and new highways. The UK should be looking at this – as well as other mechanisms – to attract much-needed new investment."
The US group, which has its European headquarters in London, employs 3,000 people in the UK and is the largest contractor on the HS2 high-speed rail and CrossRail projects.
Mr Bishop added: "I'm looking for the Chancellor to shine a spotlight on the entire private finance initiative process. The British model has huge strengths, but we need to make it far more transparent with proper disclosure, processes, protocols and above all performance and payment criteria. Bold steps need to be taken to sell the concept more convincingly to all the stakeholders involved."
He also recommended setting up a new independent authority charged with providing proper governance over all applications of the private finance initiative (PFI) process and a better focus on explaining why the public-private partnership model can achieve the best value for funds investing in long-term projects.
City backs Osborne
George Osborne has received the thumbs-up from City investors in the run-up to Wednesday's Autumn Statement. Nearly two-thirds of leading fund managers backed the Conservatives as having the best plan for the economy, according to a survey from the spreadbetter Capital Spreads. 83 per cent believe Labour's plans are "weak", while 82 per cent made the same judgement on the Liberal Democrats, although the Coalition Government was given a pat on the back – 67 per cent approve of its attempts to tackle the economic crisis.
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
FCKH8: Provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing reinstated by YouTube
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
iJobs Money & Business
£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...
£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...
120-150k: Accountancy Action: We are looking for an experienced CFO from a min...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...