Almost €2bn in cash that was clawed back from the bank bailouts has been locked up at the National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF) since late 2013, the Irish Independent has learned.
The revelation that cash already recovered from the bank bailout has been sitting in an account for more than 12 months is set to spark debate about why the money has not been put to work - either to repay a share of the national debt and so reduce State borrowing costs that are running at more than €8bn a year, or for investment.
The figure is contained in a report that also shows the State's shares in AIB and Bank of Ireland are now worth a combined €13.1bn, up from €11.1bn at the end of 2013.
The State received the cash in December 2013 when it sold so-called preference shares in Bank of Ireland to a combination of the bank itself and investors on the markets.
The deal was heralded as the first major success in recouping cash for taxpayers from the €64bn bank bailout.
Proceeds of the Bank of Ireland sales were paid to the pension reserve, which has been raided to the tune of €20.7bn to part-finance the original bank rescues.
But the €1.9bn is still held in cash by the agency, according to an end-of-year business review published yesterday by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), which oversees the pension fund.
The cash is held in the NPRF's so-called "directed portfolio", which means decisions on how the money is used are a matter for the Finance Minister.
A spokesman for the Department of Finance was unable to immediately confirm yesterday why such a large volume of taxpayers' cash is being held in the portfolio.
The NPRF is in the process of being reorganised under the direction of the Government to create the new Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF).