Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Questions (39, 45)

Mick Wallace


39. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide an update on his plans to sell Coillte's timber harvesting rights; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10367/13]

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Thomas P. Broughan


45. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans for the sale of harvesting rights to State forests; if he has carried out a cost benefit analysis of this proposal; if so, if he will publish its findings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10195/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 39 and 45 together.

The House will recall my announcement of the shape and scale of the State asset disposal programme in February, 2012. The Government then decided in June that a long-term concession contract for the harvesting rights to Coillte forests represented the best option for realising value from Coillte in the short to medium term.

A Steering Group, comprising my Department, the Department of Finance, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and NewERA was tasked with exploring how best to proceed in order to implement this decision. NewERA, on behalf of the Steering Group, has since been working closely with Coillte to analyse the various financial and technical issues arising (including quantification of any liabilities that might arise for the Exchequer) and specialist advisers were also engaged by Coillte in late 2012 to further inform this process. The Steering Group is currently considering the results of this analytical work and relevant Ministers have been kept informed on progress to date.

At this point in time, it is not appropriate for me to give any further information on the matter, until such time as Ministers have been fully briefed on the conclusions of the Steering Group and have had time to consider the matter.