Minister Donohoe’s sums don’t add up on broadband – Cowen

-Tax payers pay 5 billion to own nothing, bidder pays a reported 200 million equity and owns everything-

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform, Barry Cowen, has said that today’s reports that Granahan McCourt, the Government’s chosen bidder for the NBP, are to invest less than €200million in equity into the plan, while the taxpayer is expected to stump up in the region of €5 billion, is farcical.

Deputy Cowen also said that the Minister for Finance has failed to outline how the Government will pay for the extra €1.5 billion needed to cover the cost of Broadband in the National Development Plan.

He explained, „The Government’s continued refusal to disclose documents in relation to the input of Granahan McCourt in the NBP is an affront to the taxpayers. Minister Donohoe is taking the people of Ireland for mugs with his insistence that no capital projects will be impacted as a result of the costs of the plan, given that his own Department has outlined the possible implications of spending an extra €1.5 billion.

„The prudent Fine Gael moniker seems to be a thing of the past.  Last week Minister Donohoe made headlines when he warned his cabinet colleagues against overspending. The Government spin machine would like us to believe they are a safe pair of hands and fiscally responsible.

„However, the documents released from his own Department make it clear that the Minister has ignored the advice of officials and has been less than forthcoming in telling us how he will pay for the National Broadband Plan.

„The fact that Granahan McCourt are only putting forward a fraction of the cost in this plan is further evidence of the Government’s negligence and carelessness when it comes to the economy.

„The Department of Public Expenditure indicated that the €1.5 billion in extra funding could impact negatively on the delivery of primary schools, ambulance services, social housing, road infrastructure and primary care centres around the country.  Yet the Minister insists that no project will be impacted. How is he going to pay for this? Will he raise taxes, will he rely on the uncertain corporation tax receipts, will he take it from other capital projects, or will he make cuts to current expenditure such as health, housing, or education?

„This debacle comes on the back of the calamitous overspend on the National Children’s Hospital and the €654 million cost overruns at the Department of Health. The Minister can no longer lecture to the rest of us on how he is a safe pair of hands when he cannot answer basic questions on the Broadband Plan and its impact on the National Development Plan.

„I’ve lost count of the number of times Minister Donohoe has told us that no capital projects will be postponed or abandoned because of Government overspends. Let me be very clear, there is no doubt that we need Broadband, but the Minister must be more upfront in what it is going to cost us in real terms”, concluded Deputy Cowen.

Fianna Fáil

Barry Cowen

Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform

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