4 September 2008 Edition

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End 'cash cow' approach to state companies

RESPONDING to reports that state companies such as the ESB and Bord Gáis will be asked to hand over higher dividends to the exchequer next year, Sinn Féin Economy spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD said that the move highlighted the folly of privatising state companies, as happened with Eircom and partially with Aer Lingus.
“State companies can be an excellent source of revenue for the exchequer and the media suggests the Government is coming round to this perspective.
“However, the reports highlight fundamental contradictions in this government’s economic policies.
“Sinn Féin believes that state companies should remain in state hands and in turn return their profits accordingly but higher dividends must not result in higher consumer prices. The ESB, Bord Gáis and the Government have a responsibility to ensure that consumers and businesses pay affordable prices for energy and fuel in a time of rising inflation and recession.
“The Government has to rethink its traditional cash cow approach to state companies. It has sought to sell such companies off to the highest bidder, resulting in important service providers for the state stripped of their assets. Had government taken a medium- to long-term perspective and held such companies within the state’s control they would now be net contributors to the public purse as well as delivering essential services and products that are regionally balanced and meet the needs of a first world economy.”

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