There are fresh reports in The Times today that taxpayers may be over £1 billion worse off as a result of the UK government’s decision to sell-off Royal Mail well below City banks’ estimates. It is possible that as early as this week it will be confirmed that a range of investment banks valued Royal Mail last spring at up to £1.5bn more than it was eventually sold for.
Commenting South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine said:
“If this transpires as reported then the UK government have serious questions to answer about the loss of so much taxpayer’s money. It is completely indefensible as part of Westminster’s rush to sell of Royal Mail.
“Royal Mail should never have been privatised, but worse still it now seems that the UK government have sold off a valuable public asset at well below its true value.
“This sell off will have real ramifications for rural areas such as Dumfries and Galloway.
“The UK government’s decision to privatise Royal Mail poses real danger to the universal service obligation. A privatised postal service in a competitive market will undoubtedly put pressure on government to reduce the terms of the Universal Service Obligation, as its competitors “cherry pick” the profitable urban routes leading to a reduced service especially in rural and less affluent areas.
“We have asked many times why did ministers choose to let go of the company’s shares at such a low rate? but – as yet -we have had no answers. It appears that they will have to answer these questions this week.
“Figures showed 77 per cent of Scots were totally opposed to the privatisation of Royal Mail – more than any other part of the UK. If these reports about undervaluing it are true , that figure can only increase . Only with independence can Scotland be assured of a mail service that meets the needs of our communities – and one which is brought back into public ownership.”