Mick Wallace A lot of questions, but very few answers at the Justice Committee today, with the #Garda Commissioner... https://t.co/6e8jRJFo10
Mick Wallace RT @hooklighthouse: Look at those colours. Spring time on the Hook Peninsula is filled with all sorts of natural beauty... 📷 by Steven Fea…
Mick Wallace Interesting that Labour didn't even turn up for PAC Report on #NAMA in the Dail Chamber last night... https://t.co/yrToAYmG2Z
Mick Wallace #Garda Commissioner at #Justice Comm. likely to be a damp squib - 1 Questions confined 2 Comm doesn't answer much 3… https://t.co/DlhVJqLev7

kaThe Troika have met with delegations from all parties including one from the Technical Group. Mick was part of the group which met with seven members of the Troika. In a question to Minister Howlin in the Dáil, Mick asked him to clarify the Troika's assertion that the sale of state assets would go towards servicing debt rather than creating employment as the Government has suggested. The Troika stated that they are not interested in a 'fire sale' to raise the money which is effectively what the sale of state assets is. You can watch the Dáil exchange here.

Mick Wallace: Question 48: To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on comments made by officials representing the Troika during its meeting with members of the Technical Group on 17 January last that any money raised from the sale of State assets will be used to service the country’s debt and not for investment in job creation as he has previously stated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. Brendan Howlin: The troika views asset disposal as a structural reform measure, intended to improve efficiency and competition in the economy while offering the prospect of reducing overall debt levels. The Government, views asset disposal as offering the potential to release value from State assets for use in employment generating initiatives in the economy, as set out clearly in the programme for Government. Mick Wallace: When colleagues from the Technical Group and I asked representatives of the troika during our recent meeting about the proceeds of sales of State assets, we were told that, as per the bailout programme, the initial plan was that the moneys would go towards repaying the State’s debts. However, they further indicated that if there is potential for the creation of “real” jobs - I am not sure what they meant by this - they may consider some of the money being allocated for that purpose. In principle, there is not much benefit in selling assets at this time given that there is no market for them. The troika said it was not interested in fire sales - which suggests this is more ideologically driven than anything else - and is looking not alone for money but value. Also, it appears to be of the view that the private sector does things better than the public sector. In our most recent discussions, which concluded last week, the troika signalled that in the context of Government pursuing an ambitious programme of asset disposal, it would be prepared to agree to the retention of a sizeable amount of proceeds from such disposal for investment in job creation initiatives in the economy. This remains the policy of the Government. I would like to read into the record a quotation from Dr. Donal Palcic of the Department of Economics, University of Limerick. Michael Kitt: It is not in order for the Deputy to do that. This is Question Time. I again remind the Deputy that he must ask a question of the Minister. Mick Wallace: Does the Minister approve of the sale of State assets and does he believe the private sector does things better than the public sector? Brendan Howlin: There were a number of questions and assertions in Deputy Wallace’s contribution. A programme for Government was negotiated by the two parties in Government, namely, Fine Gael and the Labour Party. People will be aware that both parties have different perspectives in regard to the sale of State assets. However, we entered government in unprecedented economic times. We are in an incredible hole. The unified view of this Government is that we need to grow ourselves out of this terrible mess we inherited from our predecessor government and we need to create jobs. However, we need 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 and public capital was used to create the ESB, Bord na Móna, Aer Lingus and so on. We need to have capital for the next generation. The NewERA entity has been established, as has the strategic investment fund. We need to have access to funds to resource these entities to create jobs, which is what we are doing. The previous Government accepted the troika’s view that money had to be used to retire debt simpliciter. We have said “no” to that. It has taken a number of goes at it but we have moved the troika considerably. The word I have used in the response to this 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. I can assure the Deputy that there will be no fire sale. We will do what is in the best interests of the economy and jobs. Mick Wallace: Any independent economist would argue that the measures taken by this Government since coming into office have not resulted in jobs. There has been a decline in job numbers. The measures being taken are geared towards rebalancing the books to suit the fiscal arrangements. It is not honest to say that the Government has worked towards job creation. There is no investment and the banks are closed to people wishing to obtain loans. The Minister did not respond to my question in regard to whether he believes the private sector can do things better than the public sector. When will the Minister publish the report of the interdepartmental group which identified State assets and commercial State companies that could be sold and when will he publish the valuations of the NewERA group, both of which were considered by the Economic Management Council of which he is a member? Brendan Howlin: To answer the last question first, the Deputy will forgive me if I allow the Government to consider those reports first. As soon as the deliberative process has been completed, the appropriate documentation will be published. The Deputy is wrong in indicating that we have a fiscal view that is only interested in balancing the budget. The first thing we did was get permission to use €1 billion in a job creating initiative. That is one of the first actions we took on taking up office. We have to balance the books. There is no question about that. Clare Daly: Where are the jobs? Brendan Howlin: Some 9,000 jobs were created last year through that initiative. Clare Daly: How many were lost? Mick Wallace: Some 25,000 jobs were lost. Brendan Howlin: It is easy to be the naysayers and to engage in the Darby O’Gill economics that we do not have to balance the books and can continue to borrow €1.5 billion. Mick Wallace: I did not say that. Brendan Howlin: I do not know who is going to provide us with that money. The only people on earth willing to give us money, at the rates affordable to this State, is the troika, which has laid down hard and tough measures with which we must live. We can tell them, as I heard some of the individuals opposite suggest, to take a hike. If one wished to play Russian roulette with this country and its economy and destroy its economy, that is the sort of take one would have. However, one must be honest with people in this regard. The Government is working towards reducing Ireland’s deficit to 3% by 2015 and has laid out the manner in which this will be done. At the same time, however, it will take innovative job-creating measures. Another jobs strategy will be published shortly by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Clare Daly: Another one. Mick Wallace: Austerity does not create jobs. Brendan Howlin: Moreover, the Pathways to Work programme will be published shortly and will be implemented by the Minister for Social Protection. In addition, I constantly am seeking innovative ways to access capital for sustainable projects to create sustainable jobs, and this is what the Government will continue to do. Clare Daly: No jobs

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