Troika 'compromise' on asset sales
THE bailout team refused to back the Government's plan to use the money raised from the sale of state assets for job creation schemes.
However, senior bailout officials yesterday said there was no deadline for assets sales and they had not imposed a target of how much cash the Government must raise from disposals.
Public spending minister Brendan Howlin said "there won't be a fire sale". He claimed the troika were still open to the idea of using the money from the sale of the assets for investment in jobs but admitted there was no change in policy.
"That is the position they haven't formally moved from," he said. The troika wants any money raised from the sale of state assets to go to paying down debt.
"Privatisation is more of a structural reform issue than a revenue raising issue," European Commission official Istvan Szekely said yesterday.
Mr Szekely is one of the three senior managers running the Irish bailout team.
The cash raised from asset sales is less important than the wider economic impact of the disposals. He said part privatisation of the ESB can help deliver electricity services at a lower cost. And this, he said, is more important than how much cash is raised from a deal.
"You cannot put a deadline on privatisation and who can tell how much will be raised from selling a company?" said Mr Szekely.
The Government is already struggling to make progress on its own target to sell a 25pc stake in the ESB. Greece must sell of €50bn of government land and companies. Portugal is selling state airline TAP, airport operator ANA, postal service CTT and state-owned water and TV companies.