Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Rural Electrification Schemes.


asked the Minister for Transport and Power if he is aware of the huge demand for the extension of rural electrification schemes throughout the country; and whether he will consider allowing the ESB to float a national loan to make the necessary funds specifically available to allow the extension of rural electrification to be carried out as speedily as possible.

I am aware that many rural householders are now prepared to take electricity following the substantial reductions in special service charges arranged by the Government last year. The ESB are working to the full limits of their physical and financial resources to complete the post-development programme as expeditiously as possible.

The extension of rural electrification is only one aspect of the capital expansion programme of the ESB, which, in its turn, must be considered in its place in the State capital programme as a whole.

What happened to the second part of the question about the ESB floating a national loan?

The ESB have been doing this regularly both at home and abroad.

The Minister has not mentioned it in his reply.

I thought it was self-evident to everybody that the ESB have been in a position for several years to raise money on the home and international money markets.

Is the Minister not aware that their plea at the present time is that they have not sufficient moneys to engage in rural schemes as much as they would like to? This is so. The ESB have said this.

I know this. There is a distinction here between the capital investment programmes of the ESB as against other aspects, such as rural electrification, which have a very high social content. So far as their economic projects, such as the Turlough Hill development in Wicklow, are concerned, there has been no problem in raising £6 million from the World Bank.

It appears to me that the ESB are trying to raise money by way of loan from people who want a supply of electricity. The Minister must know this himself in respect of his own constituency. People in poor circumstances are told that if they lodge £150 or £170 with the ESB they can get a supply within a few weeks. These moneys may be paid back after five, six or seven years. Can the Minister do nothing about this? Could he not advance more money to the ESB to engage in that sort of work?

I have answered the question here quite clearly: that so far as the extension of rural electrification is concerned I am deeply involved in this, even on the personal level as a Deputy from a rural area. It is a question of getting more money.

Can the Minister get it?

I will look after that point. That is why I am here.

It is just as important to raise money for these people as it is to build more hotels.

That is why I am here.

Would the Minister consider abolishing the special services charge?

That does not arise. The question relates to a national loan.