Strategic fund’s investments stall

The Government’s investment fund, tasked with supporting economic activity and creating jobs, has invested just over 2.5% of the €6.8bn in available funds in the past nine months.

The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), which replaced the National Pensions Reserve Fund, has committed €1.4bn worth of funds to date — €1.22bn of which had already been earmarked for projects when the fund was launched in May.

In the interim nine months, just €181m additional funding has been made available to projects, including a €50m top-up for Irish Water.

The utility company is the biggest beneficiary of ISIF money to date, having secured a €300m capital investment — more than a fifth of the total amount committed from the fund.

The remit of the ISIF is largely guided by the pursuit of securing a commercial return for the State as well as supporting economic activity and job creation.

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath, who previously tabled a parliamentary question on the fund, condemned the use of ISIF funding to support Irish Water.

“The fact that the Strategic Investment Fund is being used to prop up Irish Water financially is further evidence of the drain which Irish Water has become on the resources of the State. It is diverting money away from potentially far more productive uses.,” he said.

Mr McGrath added that progress in investing ISIF’s resources has been “painfully slow”, claiming that there has been scant evidence of any investment which would make a discernible difference in terms of jobs and growth.

The money invested by the fund, which is overseen by the National Treasury Management Agency, is supplemented with additional funding from others sources.

Among the projects backed by ISIF is a €250m commitment to the Irish Infrastructure Fund, a three-way partnership between ISIF, Australian investment manager AMP Capital, and Irish Life Investment Managers.

Funding to the tune of €325m has been made available to provide equity and credit to SMEs through investment in two private funds, Carlyle Capital and BlueBay.

A further €72m has been invested in the China Ireland fund established alongside China Investment Corporation, which seeks to identify and support Irish tech companies with a presence or interest in the Chinese market.

Supplementing the €1.4bn invested by ISIF so far is an additional €2.3bn from third parties.

A Government spokesperson was not available for comment yesterday.

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