James Cuthbert

James CuthbertAfter lecturing in statistics at Glasgow University, James Cuthbert joined the United Kingdom civil service in 1974, and worked in statistics in the Scottish Office and the Treasury. He was latterly Scottish Office Chief Statistician. After leaving the civil service in 1997, he has pursued a number of interests, including research and consultancy. His research is particularly in the areas of Scotland's public finances and the Scottish economy, and in certain aspects of purchasing power parities. Particular interests have been in the analysis of government expenditure and revenues in Scotland, the performance of PFI schemes, and developing alternatives to current models for utility charging.

Papers Published in World Economics:

How to Have Your Cake and Eat It

This article is about how the capital assets in private finance initiative (PFI) schemes are treated in government accounts. The article begins by describing how public sector obligations in relation to the capital assets of PFI schemes are accounted for in the national accounts, and also, using different accounting standards, in departmental accounts. The article then considers the implications of information obtained using Freedom of Information on the way a sample of PFI schemes actually behave in practice. Analysis of this data suggests that the methods used in the national accounts, and in departmental accounts, seriously underestimate the true scale of PFI obligations. The data also indicates potential weaknesses with the risk-based test for assessing whether a PFI asset should come onto the public sector’s books in the national accounts – with the implication that many more PFI schemes should be brought on-book in the national accounts.

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