I propose to take Questions Nos. 29 and 181 together.
The primary role of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) is to ensure that sufficient funding is available at all times to meet the day-to-day requirements of the Exchequer. It is a matter for the Agency to decide when and how much to borrow in the light of those needs, commercial considerations surrounding the raising of debt on the markets and the need to maintain an appropriate level of liquidity. All monies raised through Government debt borrowing are paid into the Central Fund and used to fund Government spending as approved by the Oireachtas.
That said, there are a number of options available to individuals who wish to help support the Government's work in promoting economic growth and employment. The National Solidarity Bonds were introduced to provide a wider range of options for retail investors. The Minister for Finance in announcing Budget 2010 launched the ten-year National Solidarity Bond, the purpose of which was to allow citizens an opportunity to invest and provide money to the State to stimulate economic recovery and to assist in the maintenance and creation of employment. Following the success of the launch of the ten-year National Solidarity Bond a four-year National Solidarity Bond was launched in 2011.
The NTMA's other State Savings products, available through any Post Office, allow people to support the Exchequer through Savings Bonds, Savings Certificates and Instalment Savings. There are also possibilities in place for people interested in investing in longer-term Government bonds. Irish sovereign bonds are available through seventeen Primary Dealers recognised by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA). The NTMA has published information on their website (www.ntma.ie) which gives the names and contact details for institutions which sell bonds to the public, and the fees they charge.
The NTMA will continue to encourage personal savers to purchase the National Solidarity Bonds and all the other NTMA State Savings products. The NTMA keeps the suite of State Savings products and the interest rates paid on them under constant review to ensure that the products remain competitive and attractive to retail investors. These products have been an important and dependable component of Government borrowing for many years and make a valuable contribution to the national finances.
I am happy to confirm that the Government remains committed to exploring alternative means of financing capital projects. The recently published Construction Strategy includes a commitment that a High Level Working Group chaired by my Department will be established to explore the issue of sustainable bank and non-bank financing options for the construction sector. In addition the Government has announced the creation of the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) to channel investment from the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) towards productive investment in sectors of strategic importance to the Irish economy. Within its existing statutory investment policy and in line with the ISIF announcement, the NPRF has undertaken a number of investments and initiatives under which NPRF capital will be invested on a commercial basis in Ireland. The NPRF has in particular committed to invest in infrastructure (€250 million) and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects (€118 million).