THE government has confirmed that it is open to a public-private partnership (PPP) to build the €1bn M20 Cork to Limerick motorway.
The state is limited in its ability to borrow for infrastructure projects like the M20 due to the Stability and Growth Pact with the EU, but Cork East TD Sean Sherlock has suggested entering into a PPP that would allow the state to take it off the national debt books.
Fine Gael Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe has now responded to the proposal, saying:
"I am considering the role of public, private partnerships, PPPs, but I will be careful with them. I know, as a former Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, the role that PPPs played in delivering road projects all over the country, for example," he said.
Deputy Sherlock has stressed the potential for looking at financing options to move the project forward.
Deputy Sherlock said: “The Stability and Growth Pact is too restrictive. It does not allow the Government to operate within a wider envelope to boost the European economy further and to boost the domestic economy, in particular. There must be, at an EU level, some mechanism to allow Ireland, from a macro-economic point of view, to invest without falling foul of the very strict rules that exist at present."
He highlighted the potential benefits of a public-private partnership, adding:
"Financing over a long period of time allows one to meet the repayment costs in a relatively easy fashion.
"If I understand the Minister correctly, there is a suggestion that PPPs and engagement with the European Investment Bank on projects of the type to which I have just referred could be viable as options in terms of building out funding for transport related capital infrastructure," he said.