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ESB and Bord Gais will not be sold off -- Kenny

Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday insisted the Government will not be giving private companies control of the country's energy network.

Playing down fears of the ESB and Bord Gais being sold off as part of the plan to secure private investment, Mr Kenny said the coalition had no intention of selling "transmission lines or gas pipes", which are part of strategic infrastructure.

The Government has been told by the IMF-EU bailout team that the percentage of funds from the private sector buy-in it gets to invest in job creation depends upon how much it sells off, the Irish Independent has learned.

Piling pressure on the Government to seek greater amounts of investment, the Troika are employing a sales commission style formula on the amount the coalition can hold on to -- the higher the investment, the higher the percentage.

Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin was pressed to provide some detail on how much of the proceeds of private investment in state assets will be directed toward job creation.

Mr Howlin said the IMF-EU team signalled if the Government set out an "ambitious programme of asset disposals", it would be prepared to agree to the retention of a "sizeable amount of proceeds" for investment in job creation.

"The word I have used in the response to this particular parliamentary question is an agreed word with the Troika, namely, "sizeable" amounts of money from the sale of state assets can be deployed. Those discussions are ongoing," he said.

The minister said the Government needs resources to create jobs and do not domestically have those resources.

"NewERA, put forward during the last general election by Fine Gael, looks at what happened in the early years of this State when capital was not available for job creation.

"The NewERA entity has been established, as has the strategic investment fund. We need to have access to funds to resource these entities in order to create jobs, which is what we are doing," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Howlin also said he had no intention of re-negotiating the Croke Park Agreement as of now.

The minister said the deal with the public sector unions was delivering savings and reforms and he is committed to it so long as that continues.

Irish Independent