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No decision yet on selling ESB - Burton

But the Minister for Social Protection suggested the Government still hoped to raise €2billion by selling State assets.

Minister Joan Burton
Minister Joan Burton
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT IS yet to decide whether to sell all or part of the ESB to raise capital, according to Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton.

But Minister Burton suggested that the Fine Gael/Labour coalition still intends to keep to the Programme for Government, which targets “up to €2billion in sales of non-strategic State assets”.

Asked about the fate of ESB, she said: “There has been no decision made by the Government”.

The Sunday Business Post today suggests that the plan to sell the ESB is likely to be withdrawn, with the Government instead looking at raising €2billion with the sale of Bord Gáis Energy and Coillte.

Burton also told Marian Finucane on RTÉ Radio One that it was hoped the sale of State assets would “provide funds for new employment and new ventures”. She added: “The key issue for the Irish economy is that domestic demand is so weak.”

However, draft Budget documents leaked in the German parliament in November appeared to indicate that any “unplanned revenue” in the Government’s programme would have to be allocated to “debt reduction”, meaning it would be allocated to repaying the bailout.

More: IMF and ECB divided on whether Ireland should burn bondholders>

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Michael Freeman

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