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Tuesday 23 January 2018

RTE, ESB and CIE told they can be sold to help save €3bn

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

RTE, ESB and CIE could be sold off to help save the exchequer €3bn, the Government has warned.

Other assets which could end up being privatised include the postal service, the country's three major airports -- Dublin, Cork and Shannon -- the biggest gas provider (Bord Gais) and the 10 port companies.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan last night published the terms of reference for the group that will be led by economist Colm McCarthy -- the author of last year's Bord Snip Nua report.

The group will examine the operations of all 28 commercial semi-state companies and see which ones could be sold off. The final decision will be made by the Government.

At the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal, last night, Communications Minister Eamon Ryan indicated that the Government would be careful about what assets it chose to sell off but added there was nothing pre-ordained about what would happen and cited the example of Eircom.

"We've lessons . . . what happened to Eircom, it's only just settling back again after 10 years of chaos by being thrown to the private sector in a not-very clever way. So we're going to be careful and clever," he said.

But at the same event, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny indicated that his party would be in favour of selling some of the semi-state companies to fund his "New Era" plan to develop the country's infrastructure.

"We will also sell the assets of the past. It makes absolutely no sense for the State to own and finance three or four different competing energy supply companies, or operate five or six different telecoms networks, when our water, energy and broadband networks are crying out for investment," he said.

Irish Independent

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