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Public Expenditure

ukjkSinn Féin's State Assets Motion was debated in the Dáil on Wednesday, February 29th. The motion calls on the Government to review its decision to privitise state assets and enterprises given the potential these bodies have to return profits to the state. In supporting the motion Mick insisted that retaining state assets was imperative as their value is below their worth at present. He also points that selling state assets impacts negatively on employment in a recession. You can watch the full speech here.

I am not convinced selling State assets is a good idea, especially at the current time. The Government has assured us it will get value for money but it is obvious that getting a proper price for anything is practically impossible. The short-term benefit will be outweighed by any long-term damage. There are many reasons that a state should retain some control over its assets. I was surprised to see how many State companies have been privatised. The current list stands at ten. It has been a problem in Ireland, England and Europe. Many public assets in Europe have been sold off, which has left countries far less capable of dealing with unemployment now that we are in a recession. I do not want to compare everything to China, but it was able to deal with the crisis. It was able to control its banks and tell them what to do in order to maintain funding. It had far more financial and industrial leverage to drive economic growth because it had such control over its state organisations. It is a pity we do not have more control of ours. I understand that Government has signed up to a deal by whereby it is obliged to sell something. I do not think there is much economic logic to it. I would be suspicious that the aims of the troika are more neo-liberal than economic, given that we will not get much of a price for our assets.

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miMick took the opportunity to speak in the Dáil regarding the Infrastrucutre and Capital Investment plan 2012-2016 on Wednesday, November 16th. In his exchange with Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, Mick raises the issue of expenditure regarding water leakages as well as unnecessary land purchases for motorway projects in Wexford while suggesting the Metro North project should go ahead. You can watch the footage here.

Mick Wallace I hope there are more people in the Hungarian Parliament than there are here. Does the Minister not think the metro north would have been a major positive investment for the State? It would have been a great move on the part of the Government for a number of reasons. The Minister said that €1.6 million would be spent on water between now and 2016.
Brendan Howlin It is €1.6 billion.
Mick Wallace
Sorry, €1.6 billion. I hope the money will first be spent on fixing the pipes, given that 45% of treated water in Dublin city is lost through leakage. To fix those pipes would be labour-intensive and create a lot of employment. It would also be a good investment for the State. I hope the Government does not spend too much money on putting in water meters just to make the water saleable. I realise the State will be short of money for a long time. It will not be able to build the New Ross bypass, at an envisaged €350 million, for the next 20 years. I am shocked the Government did not move more quickly to stop Wexford County Council from buying the land for something that we cannot afford to build. The county council talks about spending over €12 million on land for that project before Christmas, although we cannot actually build the bypass. We are well aware of the fact that there is a shortage of money. It is pure nonsense to spend €12 million on land now. We have better things to be doing with €12 million. This project cannot go ahead in the next 20 years. If we are going to spend any money on this, we should consider an inner relief bridge, which will do the job, and forget completely about the 14 kilometre bypass. Clare Daly The Minister made the point that his revised programme is based on the need to deal with the economic constraints we are facing. Even if I accept that logic, I cannot see why the Government has axed the metro north project. I would like the Minister to give us some more detail on this. The cutting of this project does not save billions. In fact, it is the only transport project that is ready to go; within a matter of weeks or a couple of months we could have hundreds of people employed on the enabling works. The cost to the State over the next five years is only about €700 million, which is not excessive given that it would put to work thousands of construction workers. This is true; the Minister’s staff can advise him. It is the State’s contribution. The project is a public private partnership with two operators still in the pipeline. How can the Minister justify this given the impact it would have on the northside of Dublin in terms of job creation, economic stimulus and so on? It seems absolutely bizarre. In the same context, what revisions is the Minister making in light of the new economic projections? We can save him money out in the north county - money that could be spent on the metro north - by revisiting the greater Dublin strategic drainage study. The Minister has confirmed his Government’s desire to spend €2.5 billion on a new monster sewage treatment plant for north County Dublin based on projections made a number of years ago for dealing with waste water up to 2040. It is the assertion of many residents and environmentalists in the area that cheaper alternatives could be found through the development of more localised plants. Why is the Government confirming that this project is to go ahead when it could save money and have a greater environmental impact by treating waste water on a more sustainable basis? We would prefer the Minister to revisit that and divert the moneys back to the metro north. Brendan Howlin I was hoping we could broaden the debate. Anybody can come in here and advocate for projects. I can give the Deputies another list of projects they could add to that. It is great, and they can read about it in the local papers if they want to. We are all advocates for everything. I had hoped that we might move to a different kind of debate - a debate about economic sustainability and making real choices. There are people who are concerned about cuts on the current expenditure side. I have heard some loud voices over the last number of weeks arguing for deeper cuts in current expenditure - in social welfare, health and education - to lessen the cuts that must be made on the capital side. However, all the voices I have heard here are saying they want everything. People want to spend on every single project and cut back on none. Nobody has stood up and said that one particular project is the one we should----- Clare Daly Maybe we could get a few Anglo Irish Bank bondholders. Brendan Howlin We can have the mantra of Tommy Cooper economics: “Just like that.” It will go away “just like that”. Tell the bondholders to go away. Tell the ECB we do not need its money. The problem is that we do need its money. There is nobody else funding us. People are not fools; they want realistic debate. They will come to any committee to hear realistic debate. It is not an option, as the people of Greece and Portugal know, to tell the only people who are funding our gardaí, nurses and doctors to take a hike. That is not an option. Let us be realistic about making choices. Let me deal with the specifics. We cannot afford the metro north in the medium term. We made choices in that regard. Of course it is a laudable project; we would love it. I would love to stand up, as some people in the past stood at these benches, and announced hundreds of millions here and hundreds of millions there. There was no end to what could be announced. However, we are living in different times. We have made strategic decisions to focus limited capital on jobs, schools and health care. For that reason, we are building 40 additional schools. Deputy McDonald says that is a drop in the ocean. We would love to build more, but we have not the wherewithal to do it, unless the Deputies would like us to cut deeper or tax more, because we cannot borrow more. These are the choices that people understand we are facing. Specific points were made about the metro north. It is not affordable in the medium term, but it is on hold. People say we have spent a lot of money to date. Yes, we have. The previous Governments did, but we are not in a position to go ahead with it in the short term. Of the three big infrastructural projects - the metro north, the DART interconnector and the Luas line BXD - the Luas project, which will link the two Luas lines, will go ahead, but the metro north is not affordable, as we have said. We are spending €1.6 billion on water. I agree entirely with the point made by Deputy Wallace. When I was Minister for the Environment I made a specific instruction on the matter. While engineers seek to build more dams and carry out more big projects, blocking the leaks is the priority. It is shocking and unacceptable that even after spending more than €1 billion we still have leakage from our mains of the order of 40%. I hope this will be the priority. I will discuss local issues, including the New Ross bypass, with Deputy Wallace separately. I have made clear to my colleagues from the minute I went into my current Department that they should not spend money on projects that will not go ahead. I will examine specifically the lanDeputies would like us to cut deeper or tax more, because we cannot borrow more. These are the choices that people understand we are facing. Specific points were made about the metro north. It is not affordable in the medium term, but it is on hold. People say we have spent a lot of money to date. Yes, we have. The previous Governments did, but we are not in a position to go ahead with it in the short term. Of the three big infrastructural projects - the metro north, the DART interconnector and the Luas line BXD - the Luas project, which will link the two Luas lines, will go ahead, but the metro north is not affordable, as we have said. %are the choices that people understand we are facing. Specific points were made about the metro north. It is not affordable in the medium term, but it is on hold. People say we have spent a lot of money to date. Yes, we have. The previous Governments did, but we are not in a position to go ahead with it in the short term. Of the three big infrastructural projects - the metro north, the DART interconnector and the Luas line BXD - the Luas project, which will link the two Luas lines, will go ahead, but the metro north is not affordable, as we have said. We are spending €1.6 billion on water. I agree entirely with the point made by Deputy Wallace. When I was Minister for the Environment I made a specific instruction on the matter. While engineers seek to build more dams and carry out more big projects, blocking the leaks is the priority. It is shocking and unacceptable that even after spending more than €1 billion we still have leakage from our mains of the order of 40%. I hope this will be the priority. I will discuss local issues, including the New Ross bypass, with Deputy Wallace separately. I have made clear to my colleagues from the minute I went into my current Department that they should not spend money on projects that will not go ahead. I will examine specifically the lanDeputies would like us to cut deeper or tax more, because we cannot borrow more. These are the choices that people understand we are facing. Specific points were made about the metro north. It is not affordable in the medium term, but it is on hold. People say we have spent a lot of money to date. Yes, we have. The previous Governments did, but we are not in a position to go ahead with it in the short term. Of the three big infrastructural projects - the metro north, the DART interconnector and the Luas line BXD - the Luas project, which will link the two Luas lines, will go ahead, but the metro north is not affordable, as we have said. We are spending €1.6 billion on water. I agree entirely with the point made by Deputy Wallace. When I was Minister for the Environment I made a specific instruction on the matter. While engineers seek to build more dams and carry out more big projects, blocking the leaks is the priority. It is shocking and unacceptable that even after spending more than €1 billion we still have leakage from our mains of the order of 40%. I hope this will be the priority. I will discuss local issues, including the New Ross bypass, with Deputy Wallace separately. I have made clear to my colleagues from the minute I went into my current Department that they should not spend money on projects that will not go ahead. I will examine specifically the land purchase issue to which Deputy Wallace referred and perhaps I will respond to him privately. I have answered the issue raised by Deputy Daly on the metro north project. I do not have an answer on the specifics of the alternatives of various engineering solutions to deal with waste. That is an appropriate question to pursue with the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

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mMick Wallace TD has called for the immediate suspension of mortgage repayments for those who own apartments at Priory Hall. It is accepted that financial institutions have an obligation to inspect properties before they offer mortgages to customers. In this case, it is clear that banks provided finance without carrying out a reasonable assessment of the property.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Deputy Wallace said “banks must take some responsibility. Before parting with their money, the financial institution will always insist on the property being inspected by an architect, engineer or valuer of their choosing. Clearly, in the case of Priory Hall the financial institution appointed inspector was negligent”. He added that “there is no doubt that primary responsibility lies with the builder. The architect and engineer who signed off on the project were also negligent as were the local authority. But the mind-set that banks bare no responsibility to their customer needs to be challenged, particularly so when they are part of the problem”. Deputy Wallace insists that through no fault of the owners, “the value of apartments at Priory Hall has been irreparably damaged and there needs to be some financial write down by the institutions concerned. Government support for the residents on this issue will be essential”. Earlier this week, Deputy Wallace called for greater supervision in the construction industry. He commented that “when there is an inspection once a week or once a fortnight, an inspector can only see what is visible and cannot see what has already been covered up”. Wallace called for serious changes to the manner in which building work is supervised and regulated. Residents from the Priory Hall apartment complex in Donaghmede left their homes this week as the building failed to meet fire safety standards. Over 240 people have been moved to emergency hotel accommodation for at least five weeks. You can click here to watch the full discussion between Mick and Minister Brian Hayes from today's Dáil sitting regarding Priory Hall. The dialogue is available below. Mick Wallace I promise this will be more peaceful. I raise the issue of Priory Hall, which we all know has become an absolute nightmare for those involved. The madness of it has meant the people there have had to move into hotel accommodation or apartment accommodation, often at quite a distance from where they work or where their kids go to school. It is a frightening scenario and hopefully there will not be too many more, but I would not be shocked if there was. There is much responsibility involved in this. The builder is the main culprit. The architect signed off on stuff that clearly was not correct. The engineer signed off on stuff that was not correct. The local authority clearly did not regulate the matter or supervise the construction project in the correct manner. I would also argue that the bank must take some responsibility. If anybody wants to get a mortgage for a new apartment or house in this country, the bank will insist on either an architect, engineer or valuer of its choosing inspecting the property before it agrees to part with the money. Whoever went out to inspect this on behalf the bank did not do a good job. The bank must take some responsibility in the whole affair. For starters, there is no way that the people who have been moved out of these apartments should have to make their repayments while they are not in them. All payments should be suspended. Even if the builder fixes the problems to a certain acceptable level, the apartments in Priory Hall would not be worth the money that they were worth even two weeks ago. They have been downgraded dramatically. Nobody in their right mind would buy an apartment off any of the residents in Priory Hall if they wanted to sell on. It is a complete non-runner. The bank needs to take that on board, given that it is very much part of the equation. The residents deserve a write-down on their mortgage, given that this was no fault of theirs. Like everybody else, the bank has a responsibility and it should accept that. Brian Hayes I thank the Deputy for raising this important topic. The situation in which the residents of Priory Hall find themselves, through no fault of their own, is truly dreadful. It is particularly harrowing for those with young children. The Government is obviously conscious of their plight. In this regard, I am pleased that the National Management Asset Agency has at short notice made available to Dublin City Council a list of 332 units in nine residential developments in the Dublin 11, 13 and 17 areas. More specifically, these are in Clongriffin, Baldoyle, Finglas and on the Malahide Road. The units range from one-bed apartments to four-bed houses. I understand Dublin City Council is now working to match residents’ requirements to available units, which is the first step. The next step is for Dublin City Council to approach the developers involved and agree rental contracts for those units identified as suitable for the residents. Once that is done, NAMA will provide funding to enable the selected units to be completed. This is expected to take two weeks after leasing contracts are signed. I understand Dublin City Council has arranged for some families to move into hotel accommodation. While these arrangements are necessary in the current circumstances, the accommodation is not somewhere that families want to continue living in. Everyone needs their own private space in their own home for which they paid dearly. I want to turn to the contract that the mortgage holder has with the lender. A mortgage agreement is a contract. The terms of a contract cannot be altered without all the original parties or their successors in title giving their consent to the alternation. The Minister for Finance has no powers in this regard and cannot force the lenders to alter the contract to affect a suspension in mortgage repayments. However, I suggest the people involved discuss the matter with their mortgage provider. The Deputy asked a straightforward question. These people have been put on the street through no fault of their own. Would I be paying a mortgage in that circumstance? No, I would not. I would raise with my mortgage provider the issue of the appalling treatment I have received. Why these people have to continue to make mortgage repayments when they have no house in which to live is a fundamental question that their mortgage provider needs to answer. If they encounter difficulties with the mortgage lender in regard to how they are treated in any such negotiations, then a complaint may be made to the Financial Services Ombudsman, who is an independent statutory officer. The Minister for Finance does not have the power to make that order. We have an independent Financial Services Ombudsman to take complaints of this nature, and it would be a useful first step if the residents concerned initiated those proceedings, but that is a matter for them. I cannot tell them to do that. I do not have details of which financial institutions, whether covered institutions or not, have lent to Priory Hall residents. The issue remains in the legal sphere and is still subject to litigation. It would not be correct to speculate in the House on the legal process. However, once a decision has been reached through the legal process, the circumstances will then be clearer and any problems in respect of the mortgages in place with the residents will, I am sure, be reviewed by the relevant institutions in light of the court’s findings. Mick Wallace I thank the Minister of State for his positive response. In arguing the toss with banks and other lending institutions on a case by case basis about whether there is room for manoeuvre on a better deal, a write down or compensation for what occurred, some people will be in a poorer position than others. Unfortunately, the most vulnerable people are likely to get the rawest deal when confronting a powerful financial institution. I agree that people will have to discuss the matter with the lending institution, but given that the taxpayer owns a few of these banks which may be involved, I would like to think that if they were not behaving ethically in this case, the Minister of State and his colleagues might have a word with them. Brian Hayes I thank the Deputy. I suppose this is complicated because there are at least four parties involved here. We have the unfortunate individuals who purchased the home, who are in this circumstance and who now have had to move out. We have the lending institutions which provided the funds to allow that purchase to take place. We have the local authority and its responsibility in this entire affair. Finally, we have the builder’s responsibility, the standard of the building and its certification. It is a complicated legal issue that will ultimately have to be determined outside this House. Any effort involving the Government - I am thinking here of the work of the Minister of State, Deputy Penrose and his Department - is all about trying to get the best possible deal for the people in this situation. Any action the Government can take that will help resolve the issue will be taken. We are limited by virtue of the fact that this is part and parcel of a legal process in which we cannot get involved. I hope the remedies set out in my initial reply to the Deputy are there for the regulator to enforce, if complaints are made to him. While I cannot instruct anyone to make a complaint, it is clearly a matter for him if complaints stack up in his office. In the first instance, it is a matter for the residents concerned. The Government will take any action it can to help in the matter.

Good heartiness is a result of proper nutrition and hygiene. How can medicaments hels up? Circumstances that can influence your choice when you are buying medications are various. Below are basic reasons about cialis vs levitra vs viagra which one is better. Surely there are also other momentous questions. Choosing the perfect treatment option for a racy disease can get really confusing considering the advantages and disadvantages of the existing treatment methodologies. When you buy remedies like Cialis you have to remember about levitra vs cialis vs viagra. The most significant thing you must look for is which works better viagra or cialis or levitra. A long list of prescription drugs can lead to erectile dysfunction, including many blood pressure medicines, pain remedies, and most of antidepressants. Sometimes the treatment options may turn on erectile disfunction remedies or hormone treatments.

mickOn 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.

Good heartiness is a result of proper food and hygiene. How can medicaments hels up? Circumstances that can influence your choice when you are buying medications are various. Below are basic reasons about cialis vs levitra vs viagra which one is better. Surely there are also other momentous questions. Choosing the perfect treatment edition for a racy disease can get really confusing considering the advantages and disadvantages of the existing treatment methodologies. When you buy remedies like Cialis you have to keep in mind about levitra vs cialis vs viagra. The most significant thing you must look for is which works better viagra or cialis or levitra. A long list of prescription drugs can lead to erectile dysfunction, including many blood stress medicines, pain remedies, and most of antidepressants. Sometimes the treatment options may include erectile dysfunction remedies or hormone treatments.

namaleaks

THE TRUTH IS COMING....

Namaleaks is a project that seeks to uncover possible injustice and poor practice related to NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) and financial institutions in Ireland.

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