On Wednesday, September 21st Sinn Fein put forward a motion entitled ESB and disposal of state assets. The motion asks the Government to scrap plans to sell off part of the State electricity provider. In his speech, Mick urges the Government to pass the motion in an effort to utilise our profitable State-owned companies. As expected the motion was not passed. The speech can be viewed below and you can watch it here.
I support Sinn Féin on this motion. I do not believe it is a good idea for the State to sell its interests in the ESB. I have studied countries throughout the world which have dabbled in selling their electricity and I do not see many positives in many cases. More often than not, this leads to higher prices for the consumer, to poorer service and it has little to offer. At present the ESB is turning a profit in Ireland. It employs many people and it goes without saying that any profit it makes stays with the State. If we sell a profit-making establishment such as the ESB to private investors, naturally the profits it would make would go God knows where. More than likely, it would employ fewer people and there would be less revenue for the Government in the long term. The notion of selling utilities is not a good one for any State.
I am all in favour of competition. I see nothing unhealthy about competition in any area. If some other private company sought to come in and compete with the State-controlled ESB I would have no issue with it. However, I do not believe there is any merit in the State losing control of its utilities. The Government would get little for selling 25% of it. Who in his right mind would buy 25% of the company? If we sell 25% of the company it will only be a matter of time before the Government will sell the remainder at the first chance it gets; it amounts to the thin end of the wedge. This is a mad idea, I completely disagree with it and I support Sinn Féin’s motion.