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National Broadband Plan another procurement disaster for DPER & Minister Donohoe – Jonathan O’Brien TD

8 May, 2019 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin deputy spokesperson for Finance, Public Expenditure & Reform Jonathan O’Brien TD has described yesterday’s announcement of the preferred bidder for the National Broadband as another procurement disaster for Minister Paschal Donohoe and his department.

Speaking this morning, the Cork North-Central TD said:

“Yesterday’s announcement of the preferred bidder for the National Broadband Plan is a serious blow to the credibility of Minister Paschal Donohoe and his department.

“In the coming weeks Minister Donohoe will publish his implementation plan to better manage and monitor procurement and capital spending in response to the overspend at the National Children’s Hospital.

"Only last week his department published their annual review of Project Ireland 2040, promising to ‘reform project selection, appraisal and procurement’.

“Given the Minister has defied the best advice of his own civil servants, and approved a procurement process that fails to achieve value for money for the taxpayer, it is difficult to take any of these plans, reviews or promises seriously. His guiding principle is not fiscal prudence but political opportunism.

“The Government has pursued a procurement model that will see the taxpayer subsidise a private consortium, with no experience in the sector, to the tune of €3 billion euro. The State won’t even own the infrastructure at the contract’s end.

“This model was recommended by KPMG on the basis that it would encourage maximum competition from industry players able to use existing assets which would drive down costs and minimise the State subsidy. The report stated ‘that with effective competition at tender stage the level of public sector subvention should reduce to the smallest amount necessary’.

“Now we have one bidder, without any existing assets or competition, and the level of public sector subvention has increased to the maximum amount of €3 billion.

“The Government has claimed that 60 percent of commercial profits, if they ever arise, will be clawed back by the State. The Government must now release what percentage of total investment is being subsidised by the State for infrastructure it won’t even own.

“What is now clear is that the National Children’s hospital was not an isolated case, but one in a pattern of procurement mistakes made by this Government and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform”.

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