Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Barry Cowen TD has expressed alarm at the lack of clarity surrounding the proceeds from the sale of Bord Gáis.
Deputy Cowen made the comments after raising the issue in the Dáil with Minister Donohoe.
Deputy Cowen said, “Back in 2014 Bord Gáis was sold by the Government in order to obtain funds that were much needed at the time. €400m was raised through this sale and in Budget 2015 the Government announced that a new off-balance sheet social housing fund was to be established to put this money to good use. However Minister Donohoe was unable to clarify where this money actually ended up when I raised the issue with him in the Dáil.
“Ultimately the announcement made in Budget 2015 has amounted to nothing. The Government later confirmed that no off balance sheet model could be found. Instead the Department of Housing seem to be using €10m a year for 20 years on a pilot scheme on social housing. This is startling on a number of counts. €10m over 20 years amounts to €200m. I asked the Minister in the Dáil to account for the remaining €200m and he could not provide any detail on it.
“He also could not confirm where this money currently resides. Is it managed by the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund or is it simply managed by the National Treasury Management Agency? I further asked the Minister how much this money is earning a year in interest and he yet again could not provide any detail. All he could say is that he presumes the yield is very low.
“Serious questions need to be answered regarding the sale of Bord Gáis. Why did the Irish people give up ownership of the company only to have the money going to waste by the Government? We see home heating and electrical bills skyrocketing, we see the number of children in emergency accommodation continue to rise and we see this €400m just lying around not being put to any real tangible use.
“I accept there are restrictions on how this money can be used, but I do not accept its current use is giving any effective return for the Irish taxpayer,” concluded Deputy Cowen.