Thursday 17 October 2019

Government to pursue cheap EU loans to develop ports

Finance Minister Michael Noonan
Finance Minister Michael Noonan

Niall O'Connor

The Government is to immediately explore the option of securing ultra cheap loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB) in a bid to ramp up the delivery of projects in areas such as transport and housing.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said “pretty cheap” money is available through the EIB, adding loans charged at interest rates of below 1pc can be borrowed off balance sheet.

The Government has said that its strategy underpinning capital projects will be based on factors such as Brexit and developing the regions.

Mr Noonan singled out the development of the country’s ports as one crucial response to Brexit.

On the EIB moves, Mr Noonan hinted that a significant announcement of further funding for capital projects could be made in the coming months.

“We are only at the exploratory stage but we are going to explore it pretty fast to see if we can add another quantum to what was announced today."

He said the strategy is predicated on the fact that the country’s population will grow by one million over the next 20-25 years.

The Limerick TD added that it is important the “quality of life is not interfered with by congestion in one part of Ireland".

Mr Noonan made the remarks at the launch of a review into the Government’s Capital Plan.

His cabinet colleague, Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe said the review was now necessary in light of Brexit.

“If we end up in a place where the response to Brexit is a Dublin response then we have not come up with a response that is sustainable and is going to be inclusive over the coming decades.”

Mr Donohoe confirmed that around €2.6bn is available to spend on projects in the second half of 2017.

The Dublin Central TD said he expects that Housing Minister Simon Coveney will seek to boost the money available for housing.

He also said he anticipates that projects such as the DART underground and the Metro North will be raised in the context of the review.

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