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Ahern, Michael

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 Nbr. 4


National Development Finance Agency Bill, 2002: Second Stage (Resumed).

On social welfare, on tax reduction—More Button

So does the Minister for Finance, Deputy McCreevy.More Button

We did not make such a promise.More Button

We made that promise in respect of a five year period.More Button

The Deputy would not say that in his home town.More Button

They will be delivered upon over five years in the same way all our promises were delivered upon over the previous five years.More Button

It is misinterpretation on the part of the Deputy who is twisting my words.More Button

It is a very prudent policy.More Button

I thank Members who have contributed to the debate and was impressed by how well informed were some of the contributions. I hope it has proved informative for those who are following the debate out...More Button

While the NDFA will add an important dimension of financing advice and expertise to existing arrangements for developing infrastructure, it will not substitute or replace those arrangements. In kee...More Button

The PPP unit in the Department of Finance has responsibility for leading, driving and co-ordinating PPPs. Experts from the central unit have made significant contributions to developing the early p...More Button

The primary role of the Department of Finance's PPP unit is the creation of a comprehensive body of guidance on all aspects of PPPs covering financial, legal, technical, human resources and process...More Button

Deputy Sargent criticised the private finance initiative in the United Kingdom. I agree there were significant shortcomings in early PFI projects. Costs were high and, in some cases, quality was q...More Button

Regarding Deputy Deenihan's point on improving project management, the new agency will be available to provide financial advice for the relevant State authority throughout the procurement of projec...More Button

Deputies Deenihan and Penrose raised questions regarding the NDFA's powers to create special purpose companies. These arrangements were carefully designed to ensure there would be no uncertainty ab...More Button

In response to Deputy Deenihan's other questions on PPPs, there has been considerable progress in bringing major projects to the market. In mid-2000 there were no projects whereas now up to 40 proj...More Button

Deputy McGrath asked whether the agency would provide finance for existing projects such as the Kilcock-Kinnegad road project or rail projects as well as future infrastructural projects. The Minist...More Button

In the last year or so the Government has brought forward the State authorities PPP arrangement pact. A framework for PPP has been agreed with the social partners under the PPF and new structures ...More Button

Deputy Richard Bruton and others raised the need to address infrastructural requirements. I fully agree that this country has many infrastructural needs and we are facing significant pressures in t...More Button

The outcome of these deliberations is a proposal to establish the NDFA. It is precisely because the Government is determined to ensure our infrastructural needs are met and the future development o...More Button

Regarding Deputy Deenihan's question about the national spatial strategy and the Tralee, Killarney, Listowel corridor, the appropriate State agency or procuring authority is responsible for bringin...More Button

Deputies Burton, Joe Higgins and others asked the reason the NTMA does not simply take on the task being allocated to the NDFA rather than set up a new body. Great care has been taken in designing ...More Button

Deputy Joe Higgins raised the matter of the provisions of sections 18(7)(a) and 18(7)(b), which restrict the chief executive officer and the chairperson from questioning or expressing...More Button

Deputies Richard Bruton, Joe Higgins and others raised the matter of who sets policies and priorities. This relates to ownership of projects. It is important to note that while the proposed legisla...More Button

Deputies Richard Bruton, Burton, Joe Higgins and others raised the matter of the guidelines on State authorities seeking advice from the NDFA. The legislation provides, in section 8, that the Minis...More Button

Several Deputies asked how the NDFA will maximise value for money for the Exchequer. The NDFA will do this by identifying the best financing packages and applying commercial standards in terms of e...More Button

Deputies Burton, Richard Bruton and others asked who will decide on the financial reporting of projects and if NDFA financing may affect the general government balance. The financing and the financ...More Button

Deputies Burton, Richard Bruton and others suggested that one of the purposes of the NDFA was to finance infrastructural projects off balance sheet. This is not the case. The purpose of the new age...More Button

A division being demanded, the taking of the division was postponed until immediately after the Order of Business on Thursday, 5 December 2002, in accordance with an order of the Dáil of thi...More Button

Private Members' Business. - Community Employment Schemes: Motion.

I welcome this opportunity to speak on this Private Members' motion concerning the operation of the community employment programme. I would also like to acknowledge the valuable contribution commun...More Button

The Minister has acknowledged on behalf of the Government the important contribution that community employment has made to services for local community groups and organisations throughout the count...More Button

—and I concur with her remarks in this regard. Numerous community, health, sporting and other organisations have benefited considerably from community employment schemes in their areas and it...More Button

The Minister has indicated that under the recently published Estimates volume, a total of €274.738 million is being provided for community employment in 2003, which will provide for an average...More Button

This remains a very significant intervention in this labour market area, given the difficult choices that had to be made.More Button

The Government is conscious of the need to maximise, within the current constraints—More Button

—on public expenditure, investment in measures that have a primary focus on employability, especially for disadvantaged groups. In this context, I should mention in particular the provision o...More Button

Overall investment in FÁS training schemes is being maintained close to 2002 levels. The Exchequer contribution of €73.518 million is complemented this year by a €222.055 million c...More Button

The allocation for 2003 to FÁS employment programmes is set at almost €365 million. This level of investment is consistent with the Government's decision in 1999 to restructure communit...More Button

Persons in receipt of unemployment benefit represent 25% of total current participation on CE, followed by those on unemployment assistance and lone parents, each at around 23%, and persons in rece...More Button

In the case of those with disabilities, it is worth noting recent important developments in the area of vocational guidance and training for this disadvantaged group in a labour market context. Tra...More Button

Under the restructuring, responsibility for vocational training and employment of people with disabilities in the open labour market transferred from the Department of Health and Children to the De...More Button

While CE has played a valuable role in providing community services over the years, there is a danger that its link with the labour market is being forgotten.More Button

People are leaving CE all the time to move into the open labour market which still appears to be quite buoyant, although more subdued than in recent years.More Button

While 5,000 persons are likely to leave CE next year on completion of their contracts, they will move into what should still be a labour market presenting opportunities.More Button

Already this year, when we are seeing an easing in economic growth, 38,000 work permits have been issued to non-EEA nationals.More Button

Of these, about 40% are renewals and several thousand more are accounted for by persons already here, but changing employer. Of the balance, perhaps 21,000, it appears that many of the persons cons...More Button

This rate of movement suggests that many jobs fall vacant on departure of overseas personnel and that these tend to be filled by new personnel from overseas. Given that many of the jobs in question...More Button

Employers must have regard to the available pool of labour in the local market in the same way that persons seeking work should expect to have regard to local opportunities. It would not be desirab...More Button

As the transition to a lower, more appropriate level of CE continues next year, we intend to ensure that policy in regard to the granting of work permits, especially for lower skilled vacancies, ha...More Button

I trust the foregoing comments will be helpful in the context of placing the Government restructuring of CE in the context of a number of important wider policy issues which impact on the programm...More Button

Fergus Finlay is back with the Labour Party.More Button

Unemployment was at 12%.More Button

Long-term unemployment was at 5%.More Button