CBI calls for commercial approach to attract investment

28 May 2012

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28 May 2012 | Adam Leach

The UK government should adopt a more commercial approach to attract investment for infrastructure projects, the CBI has said.

An offer they shouldn’t refuse, published today by the CBI, recommended the public sector adopt a more commercial approach, increase accountability and give more notice on upcoming projects to attract outside investment. It also said the risk profile for investment in the UK is “not sufficiently attractive” to investors.

The report, which advocates reshaping the way UK infrastructure is managed in order to attract investment from wealth funds, institutional investors and foreign countries, also said the government should publish details of potential projects, in order to give more notice to potentially interested parties.

It said: “Government should commit to an exhaustive single pipeline pulling together all the projected construction and operation stages of all government-commissioned UK infrastructure.”

John Cridland, CBI director-general, said in a statement: “With banks and institutional investors, including pension funds, working together to find new ways to fund infrastructure development, the government must play its part by removing hurdles and acting in a more commercial, investment-savvy way. An attractive, professional one-stop shop window for investors must be the right way forward.”

A main recommendation from the report calls on the government to increase its private sector expertise by seconding private sector workers, to make public sector projects more attractive to investors. It called for a “single manager for each project”, in order to increase accountability. The government has often been criticised for not keeping senior responsible owners (SROs) – civil servants in charge of large-scale projects or initiatives – throughout the lifecycle of projects.

Commenting on the report, a spokesperson for the Treasury said: “Investing in infrastructure is a key part of the government’s economic strategy. As well as prioritising public capital investment towards infrastructure that supports growth, it is using all the tools at its disposal to help ensure that UK infrastructure has the private sector investment it needs.”

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