Privatising roads

Not content with the National Health Service, now the Conservatives want to privatise the roads on the grounds that we do not have enough money to build or repair the network. Some thoughts.

First, governments, even indebted ones, can raise money for infrastructure cheaper than the the private sector (as the Private Finance Initiative demonstrates only too well). Second, tapping into sovereign wealth funds means ceding infrastructure to the Gulf States? Third, we know it is not about raising money, rather it is about paying big business well to run services that we can manage better – cheaper – inside. The railways are a case in point, nomatter how the Transport Secretary thinks she can reorganise the railways, the private sector has milked and will continue to milk the public coffers because they can. Because we let them. And every time the Government offers more assets, not surprisingly they accept them and get fatter.

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