Belfast Telegraph

Kenny rules out assets fire sale

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has ruled out a fire sale of state assets as a special unit assesses options for raising two billion euro or more by privatising commercial semi-states.

Under fire over the creation of the NewERA shareholding body, Mr Kenny rejected claims it was another quango to promote knee-jerk privatisations.

"This is not some cost quango that has been set up," the Taoiseach said.

"There's no intention here of the state rushing out to sell state assets. We have made it perfectly clear in the Programme for Government that the opportunity is to achieve the sale of assets to the value of two billion euro.

"You are not going to wake up one morning and find that the Government has made a knee-jerk decision to sell-off."

Mr Kenny said there would be negotiations with the bailout bosses in the IMF and Europe on how much from each sale can be used for infrastructure and job creation, rather than paying debt.

NewERA, the specialist unit to advise on potential privatisations will be headed by Dr Eileen Fitzpatrick of the National Treasury Management Agency.

Her job is to manage the state's shareholdings in ESB, Eirgrid, Coillte, Bord Gais and Bord na Mona and assess the potential for buyers, the economic impact and timeline for sales. She will liaise with ministers before reporting to Government.

Independent TD Shane Ross called on the Taoiseach to reveal what salary Dr Fitzpatrick was on and claimed it would be in the region of a chief executive or banker's wage.

He claimed she was an insider appointed without advertising, competition or interviews and branded the appointment procedure flawed.

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