The Government is to conduct an evaluation of every State asset in advance of next December's Budget.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills has told RTÉ's The Week in Politics that this was part of the Government's efforts to deal with the deficit in the public finances.

However, Mary Coughlan refused to be drawn on whether any semi-State companies could be sold once the inventory is completed.

She said that everything would have to be looked at, but the Government has not decided if it will sell some semi-State companies and that a number of them are strategically important for the country.

Earlier, Minister of State for Labour Affairs Dara Calleary also said no decision had been taken on the sale of semi-State companies, such as Bord Gáis and the ESB.

The Government is seeking to save €3bn in next year's budget.

News of the review comes amid reports of threatened job losses in Eircom, AIB and Bank of Ireland.

The Government will appoint an expert group under the chair of economist Colm McCarthy to assess the scale and value of semi-State companies.

Mr Calleary said the review was a prudent exercise given the state of the economy.

A spokesman described the evaluation as a stock-taking exercise with no pre-determined outcome.