Chancellor George Osborne is plotting to sell off state-owned RBS on the cheap, at a loss to taxpayers.
With growth stalled, the economy bumping along the bottom and the number out of work growing, they are casting around to buy votes. Now they are looking at a giveaway to the public of bank shares that the taxpayer already owns.
That timetable depends not only on how quickly RBS and Lloyds, 82% and 41% taxpayer-owned respectively, are cleaned up but, critically, on the state of the economy. Without growth the share price will stay low. But the conservatives seem intent on letting politics not economics decide the timing of the sale. They know that the RBS share price is nearly £18billion down on what was paid for them in 2008.
Today, after three years of austerity and constant political interference in the bank’s management, the taxpayer has lost out. If the shares are sold at a knockdown price it is us, the taxpayers, who will take the hit. The government should sell when the share price has recovered. That will depend on if and when growth returns.