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The gap between public income and expenditure cannot be bridged by asset-stripping the state – McDonald

20 April, 2011 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Responding to the publication of the McCarthy Report Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Mary Lou McDonald TD has accused the government of yet again bending its knee to the EU and IMF.

Speaking from Leinster House the Sinn Féin Deputy Leader said,

“It is astonishing that the government on the one hand will not even discuss restructuring private banking debt, yet today proudly announces its intent to sell the family silver by asset stripping the state.

“Minister Howlin claims the government intends only to sell off non-strategic assets. On what planet is public transport, energy provision and a State’s ports considered non-strategic?

“Privatising the productivity of the land as proposed with the selling off of Coillte’s forest and non-forest assets and Bord na Móna’s peat extraction makes no economic sense. Selling off profitable assets as proposed in the sale of ESB and Bord Gáis assets makes no economic sense.

“Eircom has taught us that privatising critical public services does not work. No matter what safeguards a government may think it can put in place, the will of the free market always prevails. That is why regulated efficient, value-for-money vital services and assets must remain in public ownership.

“The EU/IMF Memorandum of Understanding states that the revenue generated from the sale of state assets must be used to reduce the state’s debt and not to fund stimulus. On Monday Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar stated that any monies raised from the sale of state assets should be reinvested back into the economy as set out in the Programme for Government. This point of conflict needs to be clarified.

“Did the government discuss this matter with the Troika in its recent Q1 Review of the EU/IMF Programme, and if so what was agreed in the revised Memorandum of Understanding?

“The gap between public income and expenditure cannot be bridged by asset-stripping the state.”

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