I thank our guests for have giving of their very valuable time today. The times we are facing are extremely unusual. Deputy Lahart gave examples of his hard-working and nice friend who is struggling with the ever-increasing costs of the goods he supplies to his customers. I have been a small shopkeeper for over 30 years. Particular goods we have in a shop are called lines. One of the biggest problems we now have with an awful lot of lines in a shop is not the cost of them, which is outside our control, but the actual supply of those lines. It is the most random things. For example, it can be a type of fruit, tinned food or anything. It is the most unusual thing that can happen all of a sudden and it can go on for a couple of weeks or for a couple of months in every shop. For instance, it could be lemons and there would not be a lemon to be got in any shop because they will only last for so long. If the supply has stopped, everyone in a particular locality has no lemons and that can go on for weeks or months. That has been happening with many hundreds of lines. That is a problem we seem to be having. I am afraid it will be beyond the reach of everybody to try and sort that. It seems to be getting worse.
I wish to speak about public contracts. In case that anybody says that I have a conflict I am not declaring, I just want to say that I work at public contracts. I would not have any benefit or loss necessarily. I would be working as a subcontractor for larger contractors. My interest is obviously in the provision and delivery of the major public works that we want to do, such as our school building programme, road building programme and hospital extensions works.
For some time, I have been shouting about and looking for something to help contractors with inflation. I welcome the inflation co-operation framework that was announced yesterday. My question for the guests is whether they really think this will be enough. In other words, will we still be able to get contractors to sign a contract with local authorities or the housing department to build so many houses at such a cost? Will people take on the building of a bypass or a new section of road and agree to tie themselves into contract prices? Will the assurance and what we might call the comfort zone which was provided yesterday be enough to ensure that the State will continue delivering on the programme that we are committed to delivering?
For instance, regarding access into County Kerry, we obviously want to see the Macroom bypass finished. We want to see Listowel bypass, which has been started, finished. We want to see the bypass coming down from Adare started. Those are concerns I have. The same applies to hospital works and school building programmes. Many schools are on a programme for refurbishment and some are awaiting an entirely new school.
Some of those are in County Kerry and throughout the rest of the country. When I am talking about Kerry, I am obviously talking about the rest of the country as well, because everybody has these concerns. Do our guests think the measures put in place are enough to ensure we will continue delivering the works we have promised? That is the first issue.
The second issue is our energy security, on which I have spoken and campaigned for a long period of time. I was extremely disappointed that the provision of a liquefied natural gas facility was abandoned in the programme for Government. I was obviously very disappointed with the Green Party, but I was hoping Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil would have insisted on it staying in the programme for Government but they did not. They all abandoned it. How do our guests think the lack of energy security in Ireland will hinder and upset the ever-increasing cost of our electricity?
In recent days, I was contacted by people from a middling-sized town. They run a chipper. It is not McDonald's or Burger King. It is just a chipper run by two family members. They are very efficient and hardworking people. They told me that their monthly ESB bill is €10,000 every two months, that is €5,000 a month. They said that this is unsustainable. They cannot put up the price of a carton of chips or a burger to cover this cost. They have to be mindful of their pricing structure to ensure their customers can afford to go to them. They have been in business for many years and they are seriously considering throwing in the towel.
Due to the fact that we will be so reliant in the future on England and France, and we are dropping the ball as a Government in ensuring we have gas or energy supplies ourselves, we are letting down those types of hard-working people and, indeed, young couples and householders who have endured enormous price hikes. All we are being told is that it will continue. That is unsustainable. I would like to hear our guests' opinion on the Government taxing the life out of them, doing very little to help them, and at the same time saying it will try to give them back a bit of money by taking a couple of hundred euro off their ESB bills to keep them quiet. The people are not falling for that.
We saw the rejection of what happened in the North when Green Party policies were thrown out the window. That might be an eye-opener to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in the South as to what will happen here if people do not realise that the big issue today is mom's purse. While we have great financial witnesses here today, they will know exactly what I mean by mom's purse. If mom's purse is not right on a Friday evening, everything will be wrong in the world of finance after that. Saturday, Sunday and Monday will get off to a very bad start if mom's purse is not right on Friday evening. I was brought up to believe that. If that purse is not able to pay the bills, run the show, and have a couple of pounds for a rainy day, everything will be in disarray and chaos as far as I am concerned.
The last issue I raise is farming. It comes back to the most basic need of all, which is feed. In order to have feed, we must have fertiliser. I thought I would not live to see the day when bags of fertiliser would cost €50 or €55, a price which continues to go up. One would nearly want to take the fertiliser out with a spoon in case one would waste any bit of it because it is so valuable. It is crazy. That model is unsustainable. Some parties have said that they want to reduce the national herd. This will make it very easy for them because people will not be able to keep the animals over the winter. If they cannot keep animals over the winter and if we do not have a supply of beef coming into the trade, we will have food shortages because it will not be viable for farmers to stay in business and supply milk, beef, or lamb.
We have seen what happened in the pig industry. It is unsustainable for pigs to be sold at a loss of up to €30 and €35 per pig. Many people might not think about that. Our hardworking piggeries that have survived different calamities over the years will be forced to closed in the coming months. The package that was delivered was a sop. It meant nothing in real financial terms. I could provide figures in which it equated to 35 cent per pig to certain piggeries that supply an awful lot of pigs in the trade and whose losses are enormous.
We are facing very serious problems. At the same time, we heard the Minister for Finance last week, and I have heard him in other public outings, say that the moneys coming into the Exchequer are very large. While that might be happening, mom's purse is in serious difficulty and jeopardy at present. I want to know what more we can do about it. The idea that this scheme and that scheme will be made available is akin to chasing our tail. What we have to do is try to bring down the massive increase in the cost of living that the people endure. Today, for example, there was a motion before the Dáil on wage increases. I would love for people to have larger wages but we have to be mindful of the employers who are trying to pay those wages and find it very difficult to run their businesses. Again, it is a case of the dog chasing the tail. If we could arrest the massive increase in the cost of living, everything might start to stabilise. I am sorry if I have gone on too long.