LETTER:Better borrowing for Railtrack

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The Independent Online
From Mr John Perry

Sir: One option is available for the future of Railtrack that Christian Wolmar did not cover ("What track is the Labour Party travelling on?", 5 February). Railtrack could have a new life as a public corporation with commercial freedom within the public sector. Its borrowing would count against the PSBR, but not against the alternative measure of fiscal stance, the General Government Financial Deficit. The same option is open to the Post Office and, indeed, to council housing, which could be reconstituted as local housing corporations.

The GGFD is already the most widely used measure in the rest of Europe: this is why the French railway system is able to invest so heavily. The GGFD allows borrowing for new investment (as against consumption) that can be financed by corporations from their income, to be undertaken on a commercial basis. It allows those parts of the commercial sector that can operate commercially to stand apart from services such as hospitals and schools that cannot make charges. Its adoption would allow any new public finance to be concentrated in those areas where private finance cannot work.

Yours sincerely,

John Perry

Director of Policy

Chartered Institute of Housing


6 February