Minister Defends ‘Flexible’ Funding

Finance Minister Sue Essex suggested the Assembly Government was flexible on the role of private finance initiatives today. She faced questions in the chamber about why there had been fewer PFI projects in Wales than in England under Labour.

Ms Essex said PFI had been used to build roads, schools and hospitals, but she was happy to look at “other mechanisms rather than PFI if it doesn’t fit the proposal”.

“I hope that we have got it right under our system so that we have been much more open, much more not locked-in to any particular mode, but trying to make sure we have got the best way of borrowing private-sector money with the best outcome for the public sector.”

Tory AM David Melding asked her why she was so reluctant to use PFI as a way to increase spending in the public sector.

But Plaid Cymru AM Alun Ffred Jones said: “What advantage is there in borrowing money in the private sector at higher interest rates than the public sector can borrow the funding, and therefore increase the payment?”