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GIB sell-off to be probed by MPs

MPs are to investigate the Government’s decision to part-privatise the Green Investment Bank (GIB).

In June, business secretary Sajid Javid announced that the bank would be moved into private ownership, arguing that it would be able to operate across a wider range of green sectors and finance more projects.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), which considers how the policies and programmes of Government departments and non-departmental public bodies contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development, has launched an inquiry into the sell-off and is inviting written submissions.

It is chaired by Labour MP Huw Irranca-Davies, pictured, a shadow minister in the last Parliament.

Since the GIB launched in November 2012, the Government-owned institution has been charged with unlocking private investment in low-carbon and green sectors.

When the proposed sell-off was announced, GIB chief executive Shaun Kingsbury said that capital from the Government would not be enough to sustain investment.

“Attracting [private] investors is a key strategic step for the GIB. It will not only ensure that we have the capital to grow but it will allow us to borrow and invest in a broader range of green infrastructure projects.”

However, the plan has been criticised in some quarters amid concern it will undermine the GIB’s ability to meet its goals, mean a loss of focus on environmental schemes and damage confidence in low-carbon sector investment more generally. 

Javid responded: “I wish to make clear that the Government also wants and expects a privately owned GIB to continue this clear focus on green sectors – mobilising more private capital and further accelerating the transition to a green economy.

“As part of any sale process, we would expect potential investors to confirm their commitment to the GIB’s green values and to set out how they propose to ensure these are protected.”

The EAC will question representatives of the GIB, stakeholder organisations and the Government. Written evidence has to be submitted by 15 November 2015 on whether:

  • the proposed privatisation of the GIB will achieve the benefits claimed by the Government
  • the proposed privatisation is consistent with its role in unlocking private investment and supporting projects that would not otherwise be funded
  • the bank’s performance is put at risk  
  • the policy forms a coherent part of the Government’s broader strategy on renewables and the green sector 
  • the change presents any other risks or opportunities

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