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Business News 2009
Business News->Baroness Vadera 'to leave Government' for G20 role
Baroness Vadera 'to leave Government' for G20 role

(25 September 2009)

Baroness Shriti Vadera'The Telegraph' newspaper reported yesterday (24 September 2009) that UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown had confirmed that Small Business Minister, Baroness Shriti Vadera, is to take up a new role as Mr Brown's representative with the G20 group of leading nations. She would be leaving the Department for Business, where she had been Minister for Economic Competitiveness, Small Business and Enterprise, and where she had been central to the Prime Minister's economic plans during the economic downturn, the paper said.

Baroness Vadera, who has worked closely with the Prime Minister for more than 10 years, is set to work closely with South Korea who take over the leadership of the G20 after Britain. The Telegraph reported that the The Prime Minister had asked Baroness Vadera to move into the role following a request from President Lee, of the Republic of Korea. Mr Brown added that Baroness Vadera had been a vital ingredient to the success of the G20 meeting in London in April.

The appointment of Baroness Vadera as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Competitiveness and Small Business in 2008 was not without controversy. Dubbed "Shriti The Shriek" by colleagues for her loud, forthright manner and for reducing junior colleagues to tears, the Conservative business spokesman Alan Duncan said she was "not a fit and proper person" for the job, calling into question her role in the "dubious demise" of Railtrack.

Railtrack cost the UK Tax Payer £6 billion

Baroness Vadera has played a central role in the nationalisation of Railtrack. In 2001 she estimated re-nationalising the business would cost £6 billion in compensation to share holders. For the Government to avoid paying those costs, she suggested in an email to colleagues that the solution be "engineered through insolvency." She is attributed with branding the company's complaining shareholders as "grannies who would lose their blouses"

Metronet cost the UK Tax Payer £2 billion

Baroness Vadera was also involved the partial sale of the London Underground via the controversial Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme.

In January 2003, London Underground began operating as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP), whereby the infrastructure and rolling stock were maintained by two private companies (Metronet and Tube Lines) under 30-year contracts, whilst London Underground Limited remained publicly owned and operated by Transport for London (TfL).

There was much controversy over the implementation of the PPP. Supporters of the change claimed that the private sector would eliminate the inefficiencies of public sector enterprises and take on the risks associated with running the network, while opponents said that the need to make profits would reduce the investment and public service aspects of the Underground.

Metronet was placed into administration on 18 July 2007, costing the British tax payer £2 billion. The five private companies that made up the Metronet alliance had to pay 70m each towards paying off the debts acquired by the consortium. But under a deal struck with the government in 2003 the companies were protected from any further liability. The UK taxpayer ended up footing the rest of the bill, which amounted to £2 billion. TfL has since taken over Metronet's outstanding commitments.

About Baroness Shriti Vadera

Baroness Shriti VaderaBorn 1962 in Uganda into the Asian Lohana community, Baroness Vadera's family moved to the UK via India after the the expulsion of Asians from Uganda in 1972. She studied at Northwood College in Middlesex prior to reading politics, philosophy and economics at Somerville College, Oxford. She spent 14 years at investment bank UBS Warburg and her work included advising governments of developing countries on a range of issues such as debt restructuring. She was a Trustee of Oxfam between 2000 and 2005 and is said to have worked closely with Gordon Brown on aid and debt relief policy.

She spent eight years at the Treasury where she became a close adviser to Mr Brown who is said to have been her greatest champion. Baroness Vadera was created a life peer in July 2007. Gordon Brown appointed her as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department for International Development. After six months in International Development, she was moved to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (now the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills). In October 2008, she also became a Parliamentary Secretary in the Cabinet Office.

In January 2009, she came under fire after claiming that she could see the "green shoots" of recovery amid the economic downturn. On a day when thousands more job losses were announced and the FTSE 100 index of leading shares closed down almost 5 per cent, Baroness Vadera suggested she could see the beginnings of a turnaround in Britain's fortunes. Her remarks, in a lunchtime television interview, caused criticism from business leaders and opposition politicians, who accused her of being "out of touch" and "living in a parallel universe". She later claimed that her comments had been misunderstood as she had been referring to credit and bond markets.

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