In the summer economic statement, published by the Government yesterday, the Government has placed an increased emphasis on capital investment. I believe there is a clear consensus across the House that there is a need to increase investment in the economy. This year we will probably spend approximately €4.5 billion from direct Exchequer funding on capital investment, which is pretty much half of what is was just under ten years ago when, at the peak, €9 billion per year was spent on capital investment.
It is Fianna Fáil's view that instead of redirecting money out of the rainy day fund, which is yet to be established, there are other avenues the Government should pursue more aggressively and more ambitiously to bring about greater capital investment. I cite the example of public private partnerships, PPPs. We are told by the National Treasury Management Agency, NTMA that Ireland should be doing more in the area of public private partnerships. We have pressed the Government on this issue and there will be a review of the domestic 10% rule on the amount of investment through public private partnerships. This is welcome. Will the Tánaiste confirm whether the review will be completed in time for the budget and for the announcement of the new national capital plan?
The European Investment Bank has made clear, publicly, that it is prepared to do more by way of investment in PPPs. When one looks at the unmet needs in the economy in Dublin and across the State - be they road projects such as the Cork-Limerick M20 motorway, public transport projects, the need for the roll-out of broadband throughout the country, investment in renewable energy projects, schools and third level institutions - it is our clear view that this avenue presents real potential for greater investment. We learned today that the NTMA has raised money on the markets at negative bond yields. This shows that investors are prepared to pay Ireland for the privilege of lending to us. One thing is absolutely certain, the favourable and benign investment environment that we have now will not last indefinitely. The wheel will turn and we need to lock investment into the Irish economy at the low rates currently available.
The second avenue the Government needs to pursue is the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, ISIF. The fund has some investments here but more than €6 billion is invested outside Ireland. It is sitting on more than €6 billion in its global portfolio, which is invested in debt and equity instruments everywhere but Ireland. The fund is planning to transition that to Irish investment over a period of five years. Again, there is huge scope for ambitious investment on commercial terms in projects that are badly needed for the economy and for the citizens. Will the Government prioritise exploring those avenues, will it review the role of the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and will it review the very conservative, and in our view overly restrictive, approach to PPPs for meeting the investment needs of the economy?