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MPs brand QE ‘expensive experiment’

by: Investment Week
  • 15/02/2013
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MPs brand QE ‘expensive experiment’
A group of MPs have criticised government attempts to stimulate the economy, including quantitative easing, for being 'expensive experiments'.

The Public Accounts Committee said the Treasury could not say what the effect of the Bank of England’s £375bn quantitative easing programme had been, the BBC reports. It also criticised the ‘failure’ of the government’s flagship lending scheme.

After examining the Treasury department’s annual report and accounts for 2011-12, the cross-party committee said the Treasury had ‘limited understanding’ of its role in the Bank of England’s QE programme and it was not aware of the risks and benefits of the scheme.

Committee chair Margaret Hodge said: “Some £375bn has so far been injected into the economy as an ‘experiment’ but the department could not explain to us what the effect has been on the whole economy or on different parts of society.”

“The Treasury’s attempts to stimulate economic growth through new lending have, so far, not been successful. The National Loans Guarantee Scheme achieved just 15% of its intended take-up.

“These measures are characterized by a lack of goals and intended outcomes, with no means of monitoring progress. Throughout, the Treasury seems to be embarking on a series of expensive experiments, indemnified with taxpayers’ money.”

MPs also criticised the department for not controlling spending across Whitehall, and ‘impenetrable’ book-keeping.

Hodge said: “Its own accounts are impenetrable and this committee keeps seeing instances of poor decision making by departments, which the Treasury could and should have prevented.”

However, the committee said the Treasury had managed to cut the exposure of the public purse to bank guarantee schemes following the credit crunch, and was doing better at retaining key staff, according to the BBC.

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