Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure Dara Calleary says Ireland could lose out on major capital investment unless the Government starts considering Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).
His comments come following the appearance of the Chief Executive of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) Conor O’Kelly before the Oireachtas Budget Oversight Committee. Mr. O’Kelly told Committee members that the Government should look more favourably on Public Private Partnerships given the current economic environment.
Deputy Calleary explained, “The advice from the NTMA Chief Executive is clear. Given the environment of low interest rates and current budgetary restrictions on spending, the Department of Finance needs to review its position on PPPs. Fine Gael has failed to invest in our infrastructure over the past six years and now we have the second lowest capital spend in Europe. This will cause major problems down the road as this under-investment will have a knock-on effect on our economic productivity.
“PPPs are not suitable for every capital project, but for certain investments, like large infrastructure projects, PPPs should be seriously considered. In its own capital plan “Building on Recovery”, the Government committed to using more PPPs yet it now seems it’s dragging its heels”.
The Government’s risk aversion to project specific PPP finance could also see us losing out on significant investment under the Juncker Plan.
“Dozens of projects have been submitted for consideration under the €315bn EU plan, but it’s feared that the Government’s failure to promote PPPs alongside other projects could jeopardise our chances of securing funding. This would be extremely detrimental given the fact that our current infrastructure projects are so badly underfunded.
“It appears as if the Finance Minister and the Government is asleep at the wheel when it comes to infrastructure investment. Their aversion to PPPs must be reviewed, otherwise we will continue to suffer the fallout from years of under investment and our economic competitiveness will be severely threatened”.