Friday, June 29, 2007

Amplifying the problem

The Cons have received loads of criticism for pushing forward with an office-building sell-off without any meaningful public discussion or debate about the costs and (alleged) benefits involved. Which has naturally led the Cons to try to address those concerns about poor resource management and opaque spending millions of dollars on a report which won't be made public:
The federal government is hiring Deutsche Bank to provide independent advice on the financial wisdom of a controversial plan to sell nine big office buildings and lease them back from private owners.

Government sources have told The Globe and Mail the plan is a gamble that could cost taxpayers up to $600-million over 25 years if it fails, but might also produce savings of $250-million...

Deutsche Bank will be paid $1.9-million for the work, and then is precluded by conflict-of-interest rules from playing a financial role in any sale-leaseback deal if it goes ahead...

(I)f the analysis shows costs outweigh benefits, the property sales will not go through, Mr. McGrath said during a conference call. If cabinet decides the plan is solid, final sales could be concluded in three to six months.

The government does not plan to make the Deutsche Bank report public before officials send it to cabinet ministers with a recommendation, Mr. McGrath said.
Of course, it seems entirely likely that the Cons' current plan is to defer any discussion pending completion of the report, then claim that the report says something that it doesn't in order to try to support their own poor policy choices - as they've already been known to do. And as long as the report is suppressed, there will be no way for Canadians to know either how its outcome was shaped through biased terms of reference, and whether the Cons' public spin is anywhere close to accurate.

Regardless of what happens now that the report has been commissioned, though, there should be even less doubt now that the Cons remain willing and eager to sacrifice public money on the altar of privatization. And whatever the outcome of the selloff process, that's a fact which should be held against them at every available opportunity.

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