Monday 18 March 2019

Party to insist cash from any AIB sale goes to taxpayer

Tax matters: Minister for Finance Michael Noonan. Photo: Frank McGrath
Tax matters: Minister for Finance Michael Noonan. Photo: Frank McGrath

John Drennan

Labour will insist that cash secured by the sale of shares in AIB is invested in social projects, such as the Government's proposed new childcare programme, the Sunday Independent has learned.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said the State will, if conditions are right, sell a percentage of its holdings in AIB next year.

It is envisaged that any such sale could net the Coalition up to €3bn.

Should this happen Labour will demand that any funds are not used for the paying down of debt, but will instead be returned to the voters in some form.

One senior government source said: "If we sell AIB we want a social dividend - childcare and the cost of funding a proper system is a huge issue."

Giving children two free years of pre-school education would cost €2.6bn.

Another Government figure confirmed: ''The principle of a social dividend has been decided, but not the practicalities. In the UK they looked at giving banking shares back to taxpayers, but that wouldn't be too popular here. Childcare is a more likely issue target for funding from any sell-off."

They added: ''Labour will not, however, accept any attempt to use the funds for debt reduction. This is one occasion where the funds will go Labour's way rather than Frankfurt's way.''

In her conference address Ms Burton said: "The banks became our problem to fix and we're fixing them so it is only right that people share in any benefits that flow from selling them. In other words, a social dividend.''

Ms Burton also made a clear pitch for the support of the squeezed middle, promising tax cuts and job creation. ''Labour will tackle issues such as low pay, zero-hour contracts and promote a living wage,'' she said.

John Drennan's Guide to Politics - Spring 2015

The next election will change your life. In a special supplement with the Sunday Independent, John Drennan presents his guide to Irish politics.

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