Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: I share the sentiments of Deputy Boyd Barrett. Since 2008 or 2009 in particular Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Governments have decimated the public capital programme and resorted to this PPP approach. Recently, a colleague of the Minister’s, Andrew McDowell, previously his party’s main economic adviser, told the Committee on Budgetary Oversight why we should use PPPs and try to keep projects off-balance sheet. At the end of the day, the people, the State and especially the communities affected by the building projects at Coláiste Ráithín, St. Philomena’s, Tyndall college, the Eureka secondary school and Loreto college are having to pick up the pieces for a failed and short-sighted Government policy.
One of the key issues that arises is the tendering process. People will ask how the Dutch investment company and Carillion got through a tendering process in the section of the NDFA which examines PPPs. How did that happen? In terms of oversight, what was the Minister and his colleagues aware of in regard to the development of the contracts?
Many of us in this House have bad memories of aspects of PPPs in regard to some of the previous school bundles, in particular in regard to the treatment of workers and tradesmen who worked on the schemes and who often found they were working for out-of-state contractors and whose PRSI payments, pension payments and tax affairs were not sorted in a way which was beneficial to them. Grave questions arise in terms of what has happened. The Ministers are responsible and they must tell us what the position was in terms of tendering. They have failed us with the level of oversight that was provided.
Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: I understand the Comptroller and Auditor General published an article on public private partnerships in his annual report. Would the Minister welcome a decision by the Committee of Public Accounts to carry out an urgent investigation of the collapse of Carillion and its impact on school communities here? The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Paschal Donohoe, informed us of an interdepartmental working group on public private partnerships. I understand the working group was due to report by the end of 2017. Will we receive this report?
The recommendations of the International Monetary Fund’s public investment management assessment or PIMA generated considerable interest. Would the PPP school bundle we are discussing have passed the PIMA?
The Minister referred to universal payments, which will amount to hundreds of millions of euro per annum. Listening to the Minister, one could easily conclude that the State got these schools for nothing. We will make annual payments for them until 2053 or 2054. Will the State be able to claw back any of the payment for this PPP bundle?