The Sinn Féin Dáil team have published a Private Members' motion on the Labour/Fine Gael Government's decision to sell a stake in the ESB.
The motion recognises the success of the ESB, its strategic importance to the State and calls on the Government to rescind its commitment to a programme of state asset disposals.
Speaking ahead of next weeks Dáil debate Sinn Féin Deputy Leader and public expenditure and reform spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald said:
"The government's decision to sell off a stake in the ESB is an unnecessary and damaging fiscal measure. It is driven by an agenda of privatisation, supported by government and enforced by the EU/IMF Programme.
"Selling off a sizable chunk in the ESB will over time weaken investment in the network, increase prices and undermine the State’s strategic ability to manage its own energy needs.
"The ESB is self-financing, has paid €1.2 billion in dividends over the last nine years and contributed €2.2 billion to the Irish economy through purchases from Irish suppliers, taxes, rates, wages and dividends in 2010. This is not small change.
"Commercial semi states built up industry in this State and can again be used as a vehicle to foster and deliver sustainable innovation, training and job activation measures during the recessionary period and beyond.
Selling off the States most valuable assets to make a quick buck to pay off private debt is a gross mismanagement of the State’s remaining wealth.
“IMF programmes and EU policy-making promotes widespread privatisation of state companies and public services yet this agenda does not result in a positive outcome for citizens.”
This motion will be debated in the Dáil this Tuesday and Wednesday:
Private Members Business 20.09.2011
That Dáil Éireann:
Recognises that the ESB is self-financing, has paid 1.2 billion euro in dividends over the last nine years and contributed €2.2 billion to the Irish economy through purchases from Irish suppliers, taxes, rates, wages and dividends in 2010;
Further recognises that the ESB is of long-term strategic importance to the State’s energy supply, in providing skilled employment, training opportunities, and variety of energy and telecommunications services and could play an extended role in the area of telecommunications by using its existing networks to address the state’s broadband deficit;
Acknowledges that throughout the current economic and financial crisis ESB’s investment in infrastructure has remained high, unlike Eircom, which continues to be dogged by a decade of under investment following privatisation resulting in the State remaining below the EU15 and OECD average of broadband penetration per capita;
Notes that 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;
Welcomes the Government’s decision to accept the Cahill/Frontier Report recommendations against unbundling the ESB’s transmission and distribution assets;
Asserts that the Programme for Government commitment to target up to €2 billion in sales of so-called ‘non-strategic’ state assets drawing from the recommendations of the McCarthy Review Group is an unnecessary and damaging fiscal measure driven by a privatisation agenda;
Believes that commercial semi-state companies should not be privatised in part or in whole;
Asserts that semi states companies can play a vital role in delivering employment activation measures and training;
Affirms that as a small open economy state control of strategic state assets and service provision including but not exclusive to public transport, aviation, ports, forestry, water supply, broadcasting, postal services, energy supply, telecommunications is central to the future security, prosperity of the economy and society, and environmental protection of the island
Rejects the Government’s decision to sell off a minority stake in the ESB;
Mandates the Government to inform the EU/IMF/ECB that it will rescind its commitment to a programme of state asset disposals;
Calls for dividends paid to the State by commercial semi-states to be reinvested into job creation and retention measures.
Mary Lou McDonald, Gerry Adams, Michael Colreavy, Seán Crowe, Pearse Doherty, Dessie Ellis, Martin Ferris, Sandra McLellan, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Jonathan O’Brien, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Brian Stanley, Peadar Tóibín [16 September, 2011