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Privatisation of assets has real positives for Stormont

The article hypothesising that Translink, Northern Ireland Water, and Belfast Harbour are to be privatised (News, Jan 2) portrays this in a negative light.

However, were it to occur, then there are positive aspects to this scenario.

Firstly, the sale of these assets would generate income for Stormont.

The transfer of these public employees to a privatised company removes these civil servants from the Stormont payroll, which means that the monies borrowed by Stormont would be spread among fewer employees and smaller departments.

Any subsequent redundancies would be paid for and blamed on the new owners, and so saving Stormont a packet in redundancy payments.

Subsequent hikes in fees, costs and ticket prices would likewise be blamed on the new owners.

We might actually see a considerable improvement in the services provided by these bodies.

Lastly, the burden of running or managing these organisations would be removed from Stormont to free up MLAs to concentrate on legislation instead.

The only real gripe I would have is that Northern Ireland's taxpayers should at least be provided with the opportunity to invest in these privatised bodies at a discount.

A more innovative measure might be to "privatise" the Arts Council to free it to set up a network of charity shops in every major town to raise more of its own funds, and to use these shops to publicise arts events, and also act as retail outlets for goods and services provided by some of their clients.

These could substantially brighten up many struggling high streets, bring the arts right to the doorstep of the public at large, and hopefully raise many millions for artists.

BERNARD J MULHOLLAND

Belfast

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