A report by Paul Sweeney, of TASC, in December
Paul Sweeney writes:
The leak in [yesterday’s] Irish Times that the Taoiseach has written to Mr Juncker, President of the EU Commisson, on the need for greater investment in Ireland is welcome, but appears somewhat disingeneous.
His letter appears to quote the report published by TASC last December which ponted out that Ireland’s level of investment was at its lowest level ever and was the lowest in the Union.
Mr Kenny said investment in infrastructure in Ireland was at its “lowest level for many years, and also represents the lowest level of any member state at present” – the two points emphasised by TASC.
That Mr Kenny has now recognised this is welcome, but it was his government which set out the investment plan last autumn which proposed to cut investment even lower than the lowest level ever, from 1.8% of GDP in 2013 to 1.7% in 2016.
…So has Mr Kenny finally woken up to the need for greater direct public investment? For example, is he seeking permission from Europe to directly invest some of the banks’ proceeds in Ireland, instead of making the error of using them to accellerate repayment of the national debt?
It seems not. He appears to be looking for new ways of avoiding direct public investment and to increase private investment in public infrastructure. It seems he wants leeway to have more Public Private Partnerships, even though they cost more in the long run and take much longer to execute, than direct public funding.
“Mr Kenny said he felt sufficiently concerned about how Eurostat was classifying public-private partnerships – widely used to fund infrastructural projects – that he felt the need to ‘raise the matter at the highest political level’”, according to the Irish Times.
But he also said, “We are also acutely conscious of the constraints and obligations of the fiscal rules, and the need to broaden sources of investment as widely as possible within those constraints and obligations.”
Clearly using some of the bank proceeds for investment is not even being discussed. The flavour still is “broader sources of finance.”
Taoiseach appears to seek Increased Public Investment, as does OECD (TASC)
Kenny concerned by hazard posed from EU investment rules (Irish Times, June 13, 2016)
H/T: Rory Hearne