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Dublin: 8°C Saturday 16 January 2021

Cabinet meets to continue talks on €2bn sale of state assets

The cabinet meets this morning, ahead of the Dáil’s return, with the sale of state assets high on the agenda.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

THE CABINET is expected to put together a shortlist of state assets that should be sold off in the coming months, when it meets at Government Buildings in Dublin this morning.

The government is expected to raise around €2bn through the sale of semi-state companies and other business corporations – but is thought to be under pressure from the EU-IMF troika to raise even more than this.

Among the main entities in which the government is expected to dispose of the public stake are Aer Lingus, ESB and Bord Gais.

It has also been speculated that the government may consider selling off the National Lottery, on the provision that a new owner retain the lottery’s mandate for philanthropic and charitable funding.

Initial discussion on the sale of assets was held at the cabinet’s meeting last week, but a list of the assets with which the government is willing to part is needed before the next quarterly review from the EU and IMF, which is due in October.

A key sticking point for that review, and the negotiations which will follow it, will be whether any money raised through the sale of assets is to be ploughed back into the economy – or whether it is immediately to be put to one side to pay down the EU-IMF loans.

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Yesterday communications minister Pat Rabbitte said the government would be particularly careful in choosing which assets it would be prepared to sell, saying lessons had been learned from previous errors.

He told Morning Ireland that the sale of Telecom Éireann to private hands had left Ireland lagging behind in the provision of broadband and other telecoms services, and that the government was mindful of the need to avoid similar issues in future.

Poll: Which State asset should we sell off first ?  >

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Gavan Reilly

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