Magazine article Public Finance

ONS Denies Plans to Put PFI on Balance Sheet

Magazine article Public Finance

ONS Denies Plans to Put PFI on Balance Sheet

Article excerpt

The Office for National Statistics has denied that it intends to include Private Finance Initiative liabilities in public sector net debt, while admitting to exploring how this could be done.

The ONS moved quickly to rebut suggestions that it was about to reclassify capital expenditure on PFI schemes as being on-balance sheet and, consequently, within the scope of the public finances.

Currently, almost 60% of the £43bn of PFI deals signed so far are deemed off-balance sheet and thereforedo not appear in the public finances. Reclassification would have added billions of pounds to the government debt figures and would have threatened Chancellor Gordon Browns ability to meet his fiscal rules.

National statistician Len Cook rushed out a statement on May 20: 'The ONS has taken no decision to change the treatment of PFI schemes in the public finances,' it said. 'If any decisions are made, advance notice of changes will be made in the usual way. …

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