Business chief attacks government on growth

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The outgoing head of Britain's biggest business group accused the government Monday of failing to put forward a clear vision for growth, although he backed its plans to slash a huge public deficit.

In a farewell speech, Richard Lambert said the government had "failed so far to articulate in big picture terms its vision of what the UK economy might become under its stewardship.

"And it's taken a series of policy initiatives for political reasons, apparently careless of the damage that they might do to business and to job creation," said Lambert, who departs Friday as director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

The opposition Labour party seized on Lambert's criticism of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition led by Prime Minister David Cameron.

"These are damning criticisms from such a respected figure in the business world," said Ed Balls, Labour spokesman on finance, who replaced Alan Johnson last week.

"As Sir Richard says, the Conservative-led government has no plan for growth and has taken decisions for political reasons regardless of the consequences for job creation and business," Balls added.

Lambert's comments were delivered in a speech to business leaders on the eve of the first official estimate of British gross domestic product (GDP) for the fourth quarter of 2010.

"Rather than a big picture of the kind of economic eco-system the government wants to champion, we are left with a few rather vague ideas about the scope supporting a number of predictable sectors, and the promise that more ideas will be forthcoming at the time of the spring budget," he said.

Lambert said "politics appear to have trumped economics on too many occasions over the past eight months" in the government's decision-making since it came to power.

He did however praise the government on its plans to aggressively cut public spending to tackle a record deficit.

"That policy is strongly supported by business, on the grounds that sound public finances are an essential foundation for a sound economy," he said.

The CBI's deputy director-general John Cridland will take over from Lambert at the head of Britain's leading business lobby organisation, representing around 240,000 companies.

© 2011 AFP

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