Although I am unaware of the particular research to which the Deputy's question refers, and he might indicate what it is as I could not find it, I would not necessarily accept that such findings can be extrapolated either generally or to the particular context of the programme of State asset disposals I announced last February.
In dealing with the troika it has been the Government's consistent position that funds released from asset disposals should be used to support job creating initiatives in the economy. After long-term negotiations, I recently reached agreement with troika representatives that all such proceeds would be available, in one shape or another, for this purpose. Half of the proceeds will be available to fund employment enhancing projects of a commercial nature. The other half, while destined eventually to pay down debt, will, in the first instance, be constituted as a fund to guarantee additional lending into Ireland, for example by the European Investment Bank, in support of further investment in job-creating initiatives.
Apart from the receipts from the sale of assets which the Government will retain for reinvestment, the sale of certain business units of State companies may also offer the prospect of access to significant new capital to grow these businesses, which might not have otherwise have been available given the current position in capital markets. The Bord Gáis Energy sale and the proposed divestment of some of the ESB's non-strategic power generation assets also present an opportunity to achieve wider economic benefits by introducing new players into the Irish energy market thereby leading to increased competition, which should, hopefully, increase efficiency, drive down costs and lead to reduced prices for consumers.
Last April's announcement of the establishment of the new Irish water utility under the umbrella of Bord Gáis Éireann amply demonstrates the Government's continued confidence in the semi-State sector as both a vehicle for large-scale infrastructural investment and a driver of innovative change, and we will continue to ensure the State sector plays a vital part in the generation of jobs.