Monday, October 13, 2008

Britain: Trains, water and power may be next in line for a bail-out

Great Britain faces blackouts within five years and seems unlikely to escape the fate of South Africa.
From The Observer:

The chancellor must take emergency steps to prevent rail, water and power companies going bust in the global economic storm, former cabinet minister Peter Hain has warned.

Hain, the former work and pensions secretary, urged the government to draw up reserve powers that could be used in the event of a major utility collapsing and taking vital services with it. His words follow jitters in the City about the damage a freeze in bank lending could do to some companies that have borrowed heavily to invest in infrastructure.

'We need to have a plan B in advance rather than playing catch-up. This is such a serious situation globally that having led the way, as the Prime Minister did worldwide in the rescue package for finance, we now need to put in place measures which could rescue vital infrastructure which can't be allowed to fail,' Hain told The Observer

'We may be in an area where simply for survival and resolution of this crisis there has to be much closer government intervention, way beyond the banks.'

He said it was 'moonshine' to think that the railways or private utilities could be re-nationalised but the government needed a contingency plan to re-capitalise critical services if necessary, just as it did last week by offering to buy shares in banks....MORE