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Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Bill 2017

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Snippet Contents:

The European Parliament has noted that, "so far the AIIB’s governance structures do not foresee adequate involvement of shareholders in project financing decisions, and that the publicly available project documentation lacks any detail on the fulfilment of the environmental and social measures that the AIIB requires from its lenders". We should not shirk from those questions. I believe on this occasion it is a case of being better off inside the tent than outside it. As Dr. Stiglitz stated: "Moreover, the need for environmental and social safeguards in infrastructure investment is more likely to be addressed effectively within a multilateral framework". Irish investment should be monitored to ensure our investment is not being pumped into projects that do not respect social, human and environmental rights.
The policy decision for me is clear, but we should not forget that this is not just a matter of signing an agreement. We have to put our money where our mouth is. The Minister told Deputy Doherty last week - perhaps he has updated figures - that Ireland’s membership of the AIIB could result in a charge of some €50 million on the Exchequer based on projected annual payments of €10 million per annum for five years. Looking at the figures in the schedule of the contribution made by other similar countries, that seems on the low side. Denmark, for example is down for €369.5 million and Finland is down for €310 million. Is this country trying to get in on the cheap? This is not an insignificant investment for a country of our size. It is only right that it is debated here and requires our approval.
When we dealt with the Single Resolution Board (Loan Facility Agreement) Bill, we made the point, which was accepted through our amendment, that when we sign off on international agreements, it is not good enough to have the Dáil sign off once and that changes to what we agreed can then be made without further approval. There is a question of how practical Dáil approval for change might be, but I would tend to err on the cautious side. In the Single Resolution Board (Loan Facility Agreement) Bill, the issue was that a call on this State to provide more money could be made beyond what was agreed without the Dáil having to approve such a change.
We have strict rules over the money that can be spent in Bills, which I believe is an archaic system, yet when it comes to an international trade agreement, a blank cheque can be written. We will review the provisions in this Bill to see if an amendment is required to tighten up the Oireachtas oversight. Development banks are good. We should use them far more often. Our take-up of European Investment Bank funding is a disgrace. It remains far too low, even during the current housing crisis. There is a huge chasm between where our capital investment is and where it needs to be. We support this Bill.