In the past weeks I have visited both London and Paris. In London I spoke at a New Local Government Networks (NLGN) seminar on municipal finance and in Paris I attended the last meeting of the first phase of the project aiming to create a local government funding agency in France.
London, July 14
The NLGN seminar took place in the Guildhall in the City. The participants represented local authorities and others interested in the question of future funding of local public projects. After an introduction by Tom Symons, Senior researcher, NLGN, short presentations were given by myself and
- Paul Mahony and Euan Blair, Morgan Stanley
- Piers Williamson, Chief Executive, The Housing Finance Corporation
My presentation focused on local government funding agencies in general and the creation of Kommuninvest as well as the ongoing French project. There was much interest and pertinent questioned posed.
It seems to me, after reading some of NLGN’s reports and after hearing the discussion during the seminar, that UK local authorities are presently at a crossroads. Many different options have suddenly become possible, but each presents challenges. Westminster has decided on substantial cuts in the grants to local authorities. It seems that the Lib/Con government is saying – manage as best as you can, we will give you greater freedom to “navigate the stormy sea”. UK local authorities are now eager to make the best of this sometimes confusing situation.
In the afternoon after the seminar I had a short meeting with Mark Johnson and Helen Wyles at Euromoney. We spoke about the upcoming local government conference arranged by Euromoney in Istanbul during September. At this occasion the French Project will be presented by Yves Millardet, the coordinator of the advising group. We had also a thought-provoking discussion about financial risks and local governments funding agencies. I will formulate my thoughts on the subject sometime in the near future.
Paris, July 18
The advisors and the COPIL (the working group) of the proposed LGFA in France had the last meeting of phase one in the project. We went trough the draft of the final report on legal status, guarantees, capitalisation, governance, rating issues, financial calculations etc. It was a productive meeting with good suggestions for additions to the report. The meeting also noted that the Cour de Comptes had, just a few days ago, issued a report where they, among other subjects, express the opinion that an agence de financement des collectivités locales should be created.
After the meeting a press release, with the headline L’AEAFCL : un complément pertinent au financement bancaire, was issued. See also an article in Les Echos (only available by subscription) on the subject.
Lars M Andersson