2010 – PFI ‘serving the private interest and not the general public’
Sinn Fein MLA Jennifer McCann has questioned the way that PFI projects are negotiated. The Assembly today debated a report into the Workplace 2010 Strategy produced by the Finance and Personnel Committee, which is chaired by Sinn Fein South Antrim MLA Mitchel McLaughlin.
Ms McCann said:
"This is an important report by the Committee, which raises many questions about the efficiency of PFI - not least those issues which have already been identified by the Public Accounts Committee.
"It has been claimed that in order to justify the PFI option, Departments have relied too heavily on so-called 'Public Sector Comparators' with no wider examination of other alternatives before a value for money assessment is made.
"The report raises important questions about the long-term impact on the public purse. There are concerns about the failure to put in the proper mechanisms need to allow for continuous assessment and evaluation throughout the life of the project to ensure that value for money is maintained.
"There are serious questions that need to be answered in relation to the whole issue of PFI projects. The tax payer is the one being asked to fund guaranteed profits for private sector companies.
"Workplace 2010 will mean that companies have significant profit at the end of the contract and still own the buildings and also be ready to repeat the contract again at the tax payers' expense. In short it will serve the interests of private corporations more than the interests of the general public."
Ms McCann also raised concerns about the redeployment of civil service and public sector jobs. She added:
"There is a compelling case for the redeployment of Civil Service and public sector jobs more equally across the Six Counties. I'm not just talking about West of the Bann but I'm also talking about West Belfast.
"There is a need to create balanced regional development throughout the north of Ireland and to help 'kick-start' regional economies in line with equality and New TSN obligations. Sinn Féin are concerned that Workplace 2010 as presently constituted will merely copper fasten the status quo and replicate current patterns of investment and disadvantage. This is unacceptable." ENDS