Government hoping to double EU infrastructure funds to €1bn

The Government is hoping to double the amount of funds it receives annually from the European Investment Bank to €1 billion for infrastructure projects.

The EIB announced yesterday it would inject €100 million towards education needs here which will see some 47 schools benefit nationwide. The money will go towards school building projects and investments could begin in October.

EIB president Werner Hoyer met Taoiseach Enda Kenny and ministers in government buildings yesterday where it was agreed that a joint working group would examine funding for future projects.

Mr Kenny said the visit comprised the largest EIB delegation ever to visit Ireland. The working group, made of top department officials and EIB directors, will report back about funding options by September.

There was “no upper limit” on the negotiations either, said Mr Kenny.

Mr Hoyer praised Ireland’s temporary return to the markets this week, where €500m in government bonds were sold.

He said: “This new funding, to provide thousands of places in Irish schools, will directly benefit children across Ireland and improve the quality of their education.”

The EIB currently donates €500m to Ireland a year, partially raised by investing funds generated by EU member states on the markets.

Mr Hoyer said that jobs would be created by the investment, which would also filter down to small and medium businesses in towns and villages.

Michael Noonan, the finance minister, said earlier he hoped the EIB fund for Ireland could be raised significantly and possibly doubled to €1bn.

Ministers said yesterday that future EIB funds could back the buildings of road or technology projects.

Mr Kenny said he hoped the fund could be increased “substantially”.

Ruairi Quinn, the education minister, outlined yesterday how the €100m would be used to upgrade 35 primary and 12 second-level schools around the country.

Mr Quinn said: “The loan will prove immensely beneficial in enabling my department to implement our five-year school building programme in the most cost-effective manner for the taxpayer.”

* A list of the schools can be found at www.education.ie

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