I warmly commend the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach on the production of a valuable report on the use of PPPs for public sector infrastructure projects. I thank the Chairman of the joint committee, Deputy McGuinness, and the committee secretariat for producing this report, which is particularly timely in the context of the liquidation of the Carillion group. The collapse of Carillion has significantly delayed the delivery of the PPP contract known as schools bundle 5 right up to the present. It raises profound questions about the continued use of the whole PPP process, which has tied the State into a system of large annual payments to PPP contractors until the 2050s or 2060s. The informative report before the House may be considered alongside the House of Commons report on Carillion, which is a devastating indictment of the PPP approach. We copied this approach from the UK Government, which refers to it as the private finance initiative, PFI.
The UK started its private finance initiative (PFI) programme in 1990 and the total estimated value of its public private partnerships is approximately £32 billion, whereas in Ireland so far it is €2.3 billion. Over the existence of previous Governments and the current Government, we have been used to school bundles and other proposals on housing and critical infrastructure. The reason the Government turned in that direction is precisely because of the blanket bank guarantee, the crash and the decision to totally eviscerate capital spending in this country for a decade. This was a deplorable decision and nobody involved in it really should be in the House.
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.