One51 chief says Budget focused on wrong targets
Published 09/12/2010 | 05:00
THE Government could have achieved its €6bn in cuts by overhauling the semi-state sector and slashing the costs of local government, according to One51 boss Philip Lynch.
In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Lynch slammed the Government for inflicting hardship on "Joe public" when braver decisions could have yielded the same benefits.
The one-time chairman of An Post argued for the immediate auctioning off of state assets and said international companies would pay "fancy prices" for key infrastructure -- while One51 itself would also look at any opportunities.
Along with its original food interests, including a stake in Aryzta, the owner of Cuisine de France, One51 already has a sizable portfolio of environmental services, infrastructure and renewable energy and is seen as a likely buyer for related assets, such as the state forestry company Coillte.
In the absence of a sale of state assets, Mr Lynch said the only way to inject private market ethos into them was by allowing companies to invest as minority shareholders.
"I served on state boards for 16 years," he said. "You can foolishly think you can make a difference, but there isn't a goddamn thing you can do."
Mr Lynch also wants Ireland's 2,000 county councillors dramatically cut back, since he believes they add little value to the running of the country.
The mounting cost of the bank bailouts has been blamed for the brutal cuts revealed in the Budget, but Mr Lynch defended the decision not to make bank senior lenders share the pain.
"It would have been very short term to default on bonds, we'd never have raised a bond again," he said, hinting that One51 might have left Ireland's shores if that had happened.
Full interview, Page 5