State Assets Being Considered For Sale

Ireland's state assets are being considered for sale to raise cash, according to the Minister of Finance.

The news comes as the Government released the details of the €85 billion rescue package from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Mr Lenihan said consideration has been given to selling off the remainder of Aer Lingus, which the Government had been fighting to maintain for some time, while the future sell-off of the ESB is also being discussed.

Ireland's 25% stake in Aer Lingus are worth €150 million, while Government stakes in the Republic’s electricity board (ESB), gas board (Bord Gais) and the National Lottery licence may also be sacrificed to raise billions.

It's believed that the International Monetary Fund and the EU are pushing for the sale as part of the bailout agreements with the Government.

In a statement published last night, the IMF alluded to the asset sale, saying an aspect of Ireland's Recovery Plan needed “a strategy to remove potential structural impediments to enhancing competitiveness and creating new employment opportunities".

"It also details appropriate sectoral policies to encourage exports and a recovery of domestic demand, thereby supporting growth and reducing long-term unemployment."

Yesterday's statement added: “In recent years, Ireland has resolutely carried out bold policies in a very challenging environment, and I have confidence in its ability to implement this new program. Supported by substantial financing, this program can underpin market confidence and bring Ireland’s economy back on track."

Despite the potentially controversial nature of the plan, Fine Gael's finance spokesman Michael Noonan agreed that he would also advocate selling some state assets and would not rule out the sale of any particular agency, including the government's 25% stake in former flag carrier Aer Lingus.


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