Belfast Telegraph

Plea over sale of state assets

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte has said he would prefer to see more money go towards investment from the sale of state assets.

The Government hopes to raise 3 billion euro by selling parts of energy suppliers ESB and Bord Gais, and other state-owned assets.

A third of the windfall will be reinvested into the Irish economy to boost job creation, and the remaining 2 billion euro will be used to pay back European debt.

"I would like to see more money for investment," Mr Rabbitte said. "I would like to see for example monies available for investment in broadband and next generation access."

The Government negotiated the deal with the Troika - consisting of the IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank.

The debt masters originally called for the sale of assets to the value of 5 billion euro, all of which was to go towards paying off debt. But it finally agreed to allow Ireland to scale back to 3 billion euro worth of assets and invest a portion in stimulating growth.

Mr Rabbitte added that he understands the importance of Ireland writing down its debts.

"It's not true to say that monies that go to pay down debts are wasted," he told RTE. "This country has such enormous debt as a result of previous reckless management that we have to try to get it under control."

The minister compared Ireland's recovery process to that of Greece and Portugal.

"In Greece and Portugal, substantial disposals are being forced and being used for the write down of debt, so Ireland has done well out of this," he said. "But of course I would like to see more money for investment."

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