I propose to take Questions Nos. 14, 38 and 63 together.
The National Development Plan 2000-06 envisages that a proportion of the national roads programme will be implemented by means of public private partnerships, which will involve private sector funding remunerated in part by user tolls and will ensure earlier delivery of vital national road infrastructure. Through PPPs, private sector innovation will be harnessed in the areas of scheme design, construction and long-term operation and maintenance. User tolls are now in widespread use throughout the developed and developing world and are particularly favoured where rapid expansion in major road networks is required. It is considerably more widely used in roads financing than shadow tolls and more readily permit the transfer of economic risk, which is desirable in PPP projects.
The development and implementation of national road PPP projects is a matter for the NRA within the statutory and administrative framework provided by the National Development Finance Agency Act 2002 and Department of Finance interim guidelines on the assessment, approval and procurement of PPP projects. Within this statutory and administrative framework, it is a matter for the NRA to negotiate PPP agreements for the funding, construction and operation of toll funded national road projects. The NRA carries out extensive financial, legal and technical evaluation for each national road project to be procured on a PPP basis. This evaluation focuses on ensuring that value for money is obtained. A project will not be undertaken on a PPP basis unless it provides better value for money than would be obtained under conventional procurement. The NRA's current PPP programme comprises 11 projects spread throughout the country. It is expected that user tolls on these projects will leverage private sector funding of approximately €1.15 billion over the period 2004-08.