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Government capital expenditure budget anti jobs – McDonald

16 November, 2011 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin’s Public Expenditure and Reform Spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald described the Government’s refusal to invest substantially in next generation broadband and third level educational infrastructure as gross economic neglect.

Deputy McDonald said:

“This Government cannot continue to ignore the role capital spending must play in our economic recovery process. There can be no recovery without job creation and economic stimulus.

“But let’s face the facts. This government just doesn’t do infrastructure. It is simply not interested in developing an economy that is fit for purpose in the 21st century. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in its proposals for next generation broadband services.

“The capital investment required to deliver next generation broadband across the state is in the region of 2.5 billion euro. Projects of this scale and importance cannot be appropriately delivered in a piecemeal basis by the private sector.

“Ireland is lagging at least three to five years behind competitor countries in terms of rolling out infrastructure capable of high speed next generation broadband. Less than one per cent of total broadband connections are fibre connections. This compares to an average of over 11 per cent in OECD countries.

“Yet despite this massive gap in our infrastructure during a time of unprecedented recession and job loss Labour and Fine Gael are still holding tightly to the fantasy that private investment is going to ride in on a wave of cash.

“Sinn Féin would not cut capital spending. Our capital investment proposals would significantly contribute to Ireland’s competitiveness as well as developing a sustainable, performing economy. Investment in infrastructure not only benefits job creation in the immediate term; it has a supply side benefit for businesses and the State.

“Sinn Féin is proposing a 7 billion euro investment package in job creation and economic growth. We would fund this proposal from the remaining 5.3 billion in the National Pension Reserve Fund and 1.7 billion from the European Investment Bank.

“The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has already confirmed that the EIB are willing to provide monies for Exchequer funded projects. As he know EIB interest rates are low and the bank provides flexible repayment terms. In fact the EIB is actively seeking out investment opportunities in EU States with infrastructural shortfalls.

“Sinn Féin would invest €2.5 billion of capital investment necessary for the roll out of next-generation broadband throughout the State. Forty four per cent of this investment would come from EIB funding. This venture, in conjunction with the necessary investment in education infrastructure, would completely transform Ireland’s position as a location for high tech jobs.” ENDS

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