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Dáil to debate Government plans to sell commercial semi states - McDonald accuses Ministers of short-termism

13 October, 2011 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Speaking ahead of this morning’s Dáil debate on the government’s commitment to sell off commercial state assets to private interests, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald has called on the government to step back from its decision to sell off the last of the State’s wealth, describing the move as short-termism folly.

Deputy McDonald said:

“Labour and Fine Gael assert that the sale of commercial semi state companies is a fait accompli. The Exchequer is stuck for cash and selling off the last of the State’s assets is the only way to plug the banking debt. Ministers expect, as a sop to the people, the Troika might agree to let the government throw a meagre few bob of the proceeds into job creation and investment.

“This policy makes absolutely no economic sense. This government, like the last continues to socialise private debt. Saving Anglo Irish Bank will indebt the people to the tune of nearly €75 billion by the time the promissory notes are paid in full in 2031. The State’s only Wealth Fund – the National Pension Reserve Fund – has been squandered to bail out bad banking debt. With nothing left to pillage the government and its partners in the Troika are now seeking to divest the State of its assets and will use the majority of the proceeds to pay down the States’ debts.

“Asset and cash stripping the State during a time of crisis is not a strategy – it is a mugging. The privatisation of Eircom tells this story. Eircom was worth €8.4 billion at the time of its privatisation but by 2011 had a net value of just €39 million.

“Ireland is a small open economy. State control of strategic assets such as public transport, aviation, ports, forestry, water supply, broadcasting, postal services, energy supply, and telecommunications is central to the future security, prosperity of the economy and society, and environmental protection of the island.

“Commercial semi-State companies can also play a vital role in delivering employment activation measures and training. These companies have in the past and can continue to mentor entrepreneurial talent and create a pool of home grown first world managers and experts in their respective fields.

“It is the role of Government to ensure efficient and equitable provision of critical infrastructure and public services. It is the responsibility of commercial semi state management to work with Government to deliver these services and infrastructure cost effectively and in a manner that meets the needs of the State.”

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