Britain ready to underwrite infrastructure projects

September 3rd, 2012 - 1:16 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 3 (IANS) British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has said the government, in a bid to boost the country’s sluggish economy, would underwrite altogether 50 billion pounds ($79.3 billion) of infrastructure and house building projects.

Osborne said Sunday that the Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Bill would be introduced in the next few weeks and should become law by the end of October, reported Xinhua.

The Bill is to give green light to 40 billion pounds of construction projects by using the government’s low interest rates to underwrite them.

Projects qualified for government guarantee must be “nationally significant”, ready to start construction within 12 months, financially credible and be of “good value” for taxpayers.

Meanwhile, ministers are expected to make plans to underwrite up to 10 billion pounds worth of new homes, including guaranteeing the debt of housing associations and private sector developers.

The government will outline details for these projects very soon as the parliament resumes from summer break this week.

Commenting on the expansion of the Heathrow airport which has been repeatedly appealed by senior Conservative politicians recently, Osborne did not rule out the possibility of a third runway for Britain’s largest airport, and agreed that extra runway capacity was needed in the South East of England.

“It is a question of where it should go - Heathrow, a new (Thames) estuary airport, Stansted, Gatwick - people have lots of different options,” the Chancellor said.

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