As the Deputy is aware, as Minister for Transport I am responsible for overall policy and funding issues relating to the national roads programme element of Transport 21. However, the detailed planning, design and implementation of individual road improvement projects, including those carried out by way of public private partnerships, PPPs, is a matter for the National Roads Authority, NRA, under the Roads Act 1993. This includes the carrying out of cost-benefit analyses for such projects.
Earlier this year, the Government reviewed the financing arrangements for Transport 21. As a result, it is now proposed that a number of national road projects, involving a capital expenditure of the order of €1 billion, should be undertaken as unitary payment or non-tolled PPPs. There will be a corresponding reduction of the order of €1 billion in Exchequer funding for the national roads programme. The result is that overall funding for the programme, at approximately €18.6 billion, will remain unchanged.
The NRA has carried out some initial work to identify a number of projects that could be carried out as unitary payment PPPs. Significant further analysis remains to be done to definitively determine the full details of such projects. It is expected that the PPP process will ensure that the projects chosen will be delivered at an earlier stage than would otherwise have been the case.
The NRA carries out exhaustive financial, legal and technical evaluations of the PPP mechanism for national road contracts. It possesses full value for money and tender evaluation reports for all schemes for which PPP contracts have been awarded. The NRA is fully committed to facilitating, in as far as is practicable, a thorough examination of the PPP process in order to allow a full value for money assessment to be carried out in regard to national road PPP projects. I am satisfied that these arrangements are adequate to facilitate parliamentary oversight of PPPs.