As the FT notes this morning:
The Treasury is poised to scour the nation’s boardrooms as it searches for a new finance chief able to inject corporate-style rigour into Whitehall’s management of public finances.
Corporate style rigour? Of the sort that brought the banks to the brink of failure I presume? And of the sort that means that International Financial Reporting Standard based accounts do not anticipate losses? Or which results in the Financial Reporting Council saying bank audits were universally 'below average' (which is, of course, an oxymoron).
Yes, this is, apparently, what the Treasury is looking for. The FT added:
Danny Alexander, chief Treasury secretary, will on Monday announce the creation of a senior post, akin to a company chief financial officer, with a brief to look beyond departmental fiefdoms and make strategic judgments about spending priorities across the whole of government.
So this new demi-god of finance will scrutinise all finance. But when parliament itself does such things people like the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales criticise it for doing so. Let's presume then that this oversight may well take the form that most accountants are only capable of understanding, which is about cost cutting and not about investment, or quality, or even increasing revenue, which in this case would mean closing the tax gap.
There is much finance might bring to government. But I suspect there's almost nothing the average corporate finance director could add that would be of any value at all to 99% of the people of the UK, not least because they're not trained to do that. And that's what's so worrying about this idea.