Sale of State assets must not jeopardise jobs, says Senator Higgins

The proposed sale of State assets must not be at the expense of job losses, Senator Lorraine Higgins has warned this week.

Speaking in Seanad Eireann, at which Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin attended, Senator Higgins said with regard to the sale of State assets, there is a general pattern of consequential job losses as a result of investors seeking to acquire the best return possible on their investment when such a programme is undertaken by governments.

“What we do not want to find ourselves in is a situation whereby we are introducing a fund for job creation initiatives from some of the funding we acquire from the sale of non-strategic assets, while at the same time we have a corresponding job loss figure from the actual sale of these state assets,” Senator Higgins pointed out.

The Government has already announced that the sale of State assets will include the Bord Gáis Energy business and some of ESB's "non-strategic" power generation capacity. The sale of some of forestry body Coillte's assets will be considered, though not the sale of land.

Senator Higgins asked Minister Howlin if the relevant Department has conducted a thorough job loss analysis, stating that it is “extremely important that this is done as a matter of urgency.”

Senator Higgins concluded: “I would also strongly urge that any job creation initiatives employed on foot of the sale of State assets would take careful consideration of regional deficiencies in terms of employment figures so we can see places like Galway East properly benefit from any such job creation programme.

“Minister Howlin has already stated that it has been agreed that one-third of any of the proceeds could be used for re-investment in the economy and this is something that the Labour Party, and I, are firmly committed to.”

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