Fianna Fáil Energy spokesperson Michael Moynihan is questioning the Government’s claims that more than 50% of revenue raised from the sale of Bord Gáis Energy is being spent on job creation.
The Government agreed a €1.1bn deal with Centrica, Brookfield Renewable Power and iCON Infrastructure for the sale of the customer and energy generation wing of Bord Gáis late last year. However, it’s emerged that only €110 million is being invested in job creation programmes this year.
“One of the promises Minister Pat Rabbitte made when the company was sold was that more than half of the money generated from the sale would go towards job creation. That amounts to at least €500 million. However, in response to a parliamentary question, the Minister has admitted that only €110 million has been allocated for projects supported from the sale of state assets this year. Where is the remaining €390 million, and what is it being spent on? The Government tried to distract from the bad deal it agreed with Centrica with the promise of investment in job creation, however it’s not even meeting the targets its set itself, and is once again failing to make good on the promises it made to the public”, commented Deputy Moynihan.
“I expressed concern in December that one of the country’s key assets was being sold off well below market value. This deal was completed only weeks after the Government had postponed the sale because none of the bids were acceptable. I remain convinced a better price could have been achieved had Ministers waited until there was more evidence of a market recovery. There was no pressure on the Government to sell at that time; Bord Gáis was delivering a good service to its customers and was returning a profit for the state. If they waited for a better price, the Government would have more money to invest in services and jobs.
“There is no merit in selling off a valuable asset that is already generating revenue for the state. The Government seems to place no worth on our major assets, with the sell-off of Irish Life, Bank of Ireland preference shares and the National Lottery all agreed in the last year. It’s unclear how much, if any, of the money generated by the sale of these assets will actually be spent on job creation. If the figure from the Bord Gáis sale is to be replicated, the investment will be minimal. This is just another example of this Government spinning a populist idea and failing to follow through on its promises”.