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The private finance initiative (PFI) and finance capital: A note on gaps in the "accountability" debate

Asenova, D. and Beck, M. (2007) The private finance initiative (PFI) and finance capital: A note on gaps in the "accountability" debate. Working Paper. Department of Management Studies, University of York

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During recent years, a wide spectrum of research has questioned whether public services/infrastructure procurement through private finance, as exemplified by the UK Private Finance Initiative (PFI), meets minimum standard of democratic accountability. While broadly agreeing with some of these arguments, this paper suggests that this debate is flawed on two grounds. Firstly, PFI is not about effective procurement, or even about a pragmatic choice of procurement mechanisms which can potentially compromise public involvement and input; rather it is about a process where the state creates new profit opportunities at a time when the international financial system is increasingly lacking in safe investment opportunities. Secondly, because of its primary function as investment opportunity, PFI, by its very nature, prioritises the risk-return criteria of private finance over the needs of the public sector client and its stakeholders. Using two case studies of recent PFI projects, the paper illustrates some of the mechanisms through which finance capital exercises control over the PFI procurement process. The paper concludes that recent proposals aimed at “reforming” or “democratising” PFI fail to recognise the objective constraints which this type of state-finance capital nexus imposes on political process.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Keywords: accountability,private investment,public private partnerships,private finance initiative,finance capital,financial services providers,public sector management,public services,public sector employees,hegemony
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > The York Management School
Depositing User: Sherpa Assistant
Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2007 16:59
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2016 23:02
Status: Published
Publisher: Department of Management Studies, University of York
Refereed: No
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3473

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