Thursday 18 July 2019

Ireland's €475m dividend windfall from semi-state sector

The Government got €269m from the ESB last year
The Government got €269m from the ESB last year

Gordon Deegan

The Government enjoyed a dividend bonanza from the semi-state sector with last year's payout rising 80pc to €475m.

New figures provided by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan show that semi-states paid out €475m last year, including €269m from the ESB. Around €264m was paid out in 2013.

The 2014 total shows that €1.8bn has been paid out in dividends by the semi state sector between 2003 and 2014.

The figures show that dividend payouts have risen dramatically since 2008.

Before 2008, total annual dividends received by Government did not exceed €83.9m in any year and totalled only €36.7m in 2003. The dividend payout more than doubled to €264m in 2013 before again enjoying a sharp rise last year.

Dividends from semi-state energy firms accounted for the largest proportion of the payouts. Along with the €269m paid out by the ESB, Ervia, previously Bord Gais, paid out €171m.

In response to a written parliamentary question from Fianna Fail's Michael McGrath, Minister Noonan further confirmed that Bord na Mona paid out €10.6m in dividends with the Dublin Port Company paying €8m.

Other semi-states to contribute include Coillte, which provided €6m; Aer Lingus, which paid €5.36m; the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) paid €4.83m; and Port of Cork paid €503,861.

The dividend payout in 2012 was €111.6m and €137.5m in 2011.

In the period 2003 to 2014, the ESB paid out €1.12bn with Ervia paying out €381m - 88pc of the total paid out during the period.

"The sale of Bord Gais Energy and the disposal by the ESB of power plants in the UK and Spain has generated significant cash dividends for the State," deputy McGrath said.

"Back in January 2013, we were assured by the Government that they had reached an agreement with the troika to allow for half of the proceeds from the sale of State assets to be used to support job-creating projects," he added.

"This has simply not happened and it is difficult to see any tangible benefits from Government privation programmes apart from papering over expenditure over-runs. In effect, there is no long term investment being funded from these sales."

Irish Independent

Also in Business