New bill to put ISIF on statutory footing

Thursday 15 May 2014 23.14
Finance Minister Michael Noonan says people's savings will not be 'frittered away'
Finance Minister Michael Noonan says people's savings will not be 'frittered away'

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said today that Budget 2015 will be delivered on October 14 or 15.

He made his comments as the Government published a bill to place the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and NewERA - which manages its shareholdings in semi-state companies - on a statutory basis.

The €6.8 billion fund has been operating on a non-statutory basis for the past year, dealing with companies and projects such as Irish Water and Coillte.

It also prepares SME financing in joint ventures in co-financing with the likes of Silicon Valley Bank and Chinese Investment Corporation joint ventures.

The National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Bill 2014 will result in NTMA getting a statutory board, rather than an advisory board as it has up until now.  

Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways, is the chairman of the NTMA, and consulted with Mr Noonan yesterday on possible names for the new board.

The Minister of Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, said the bill was a very important landmark in the restructuring of the NTMA family of organisations in the Treasury Building. It is a central part of the Government's strategy to maximise the impact from investment in economic growth and job creation.

Mr Howlin said an important objective of the Government has been to address the lack of capital in the economy, and the establishment of the ISIF on a statutory basis formalises what it has been doing.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said investment is needed in the economy now, NewERA was a part of the Programme for Government, and this is a further phase in implementing that plan.

Asked what happened to the logic of having a national pension fund, the Minister said the best guarantee of pensions security is to have a growing economy rather than a piggy bank to be drawn on.  

He said a lot has changed since Charlie McCreevy set up the National Pensions Reserve Fund, adding that there is no question of "frittering away" Irish people's savings. He said the fund was a commercial investment fund, and it will have to make money.

Asked about John Moran's departure as Secretary General of the Department of Finance, both Mr Noonan and Mr Howlin paid tribute to Mr Moran.  

Mr Noonan said he did not want to rush immediately into making plans for Mr Moran's replacement, adding that he will stay with the department for a few months. 

The Finance Minister also said that Budget 2015 will be on 14 or 15 October - most likely 14 October.

He said he would like a new Secretary General in place by mid July, so that there is a two and a half month budget run in under a new Secretary General.