Gliel’avevano detto che non è aria di annunciare grandi investimenti per rilanciare l’economia e contrastare l’attivismo dei conservatori. Il leader laburista però ha promesso di trovare i soldi e così oltre alle privatizzazioni, altri 13 miliardi verranno fuori con la vendita di beni dello Stato.
(The Guardian) -The prime minister is to mark the first day of the new political term by detailing an asset sale worth £16bn, in what the Liberal Democrats have called the “largest sell-off since the 1980s privatisations”.
Gordon Brown will attempt to leap ahead of the Tories in the numbers game and prove the credentials of his government’s plan to get the public debt and deficit down – with public borrowing a record £175bn next year – by putting flesh on the bones of an already stated aim to raise money through sales.
Though a headline figure of £16bn from asset sales had been included in this year’s budget book, Brown will use a meeting with business leaders today to fully itemise the assets, earmarking infrastructure for sale that has so far proved tricky for the government to sell off, such as the student loan book and the betting company Tote.
By attempting to sell these assets, as well as the Channel tunnel rail link, the bridge and tunnel crossing over the Thames at Dartford and its 32% stake in the uranium processing company Urenco, the government hopes it can raise £3bn. Brown will also in effect put up for sale a proportion of local government real estate – a portfolio worth £220bn – which it hopes will bring in £13bn over the next two years, above the £30bn already set out in the Lyons report.
Brown will attempt to head off accusations of a “fire sale” by saying the assets must go within two years. The government does not appear to want to sell land off in the current market, saying instead it will only dispose of real estate as market conditions improve.
The aim is to dispense with what Brown will call “non-core government business activities” to meet its pledge of cutting the deficit in half over the next four years. Contrasting his approach with that of the Tories – who he believes are wrong in wanting to start paying down the deficit immediately – Brown will say: “We need a deficit reduction plan that supports growth and jobs not one that snuffs out recovery before it has started.”
Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, cautiously welcomed the move to sell off assets but said any plans to do so in the current market were “barmy”. He said: “Given the state of the public finances, asset sales, at least in principle, make sense. However as we saw with the sale of the defence technology company QinetiQ, this government does not have a good track record in getting the taxpayer a good price from asset sales. Attempts to sell off large amounts of government land into a very depressed market as we have now would be frankly barmy. These asset sales should be based on a financial calculation not a political one.”
A Lib Dem source described it as “certainly the largest [sell off] since the 1980s privatisations”.
Not all of the assets are surprising, with chancellor Alistair Darling announcing last month that the government intended to sell off the Dartford crossing as part of its attempt to meet the £16bn target.
The government had intended to sell £6bn of the £18bn student loan book earlier this year but delayed it, fearing it would not get “good return for the taxpayer”. In 2001, the sell-off of the Tote was a Labour party manifesto pledge, but after numerous abortive attempts a final government move to try to sell it in March last year was halted after market conditions were not deemed good enough.
Last night the Tories said the move was “probably necessary” given the state of the finances. A spokesman said: “Given the state the country is in is probably necessary but it is no substitute for a long-term plan to get the country to live within its means.”
Brown will hope the targeted asset sales will buy him credit as he sticks to his assertion that spending should not be slimmed until next year, contrasting himself with the Tories who believe spending cuts should begin immediately.
He will say: “A vital contributor to sustainable public finances is growth. Restoring public finance sustainability must be done in a way that supports growth not destroys it. The failure to do so is the real risk of a lost decade of austerity.
“A reduction in growth of 1% next year would raise the deficit by 0.5% next year and even more in subsequent years, adding to the future debt burden. The resulting impact on the debt burden could be more than 5% of GDP after 10 years.”
“The government has set out the detailed tax measures that underpin this deficit reduction programme, which on the cautious assumptions we have set out will raise around £13bn extra by 2013/14.”