Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 5 June 2019
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment
National Broadband Plan: Discussion
My first question is on the options paper, which formed the basis of the Government's decision afterwards, which was the gap model. The paper stated the gap-funding model had a number of advantages and outlined them: it was the cheapest option to the State overall, minimising exposure to risk. It recognised that it would take the advantage of competition between bidders to further lower the contribution from the taxpayer.
Of course, that was then and this is now. The situation has changed. We have only one bidder as the other two pulled out fairly quickly after Eir secured the 300,000 easiest-to-reach households. We have no competition for the contract. The cost to the State has gone from €800 million to almost €3 billion.
If one examines the way this is set out over its first years, one will see that the State is front-loading the contract with €2.95 billion worth of risk. The private bidders are putting in less than €200 million. I ask Ms Connolly to explain this. Certain advantages were heavily leaned on and highlighted as reasons to go with the gap model in the first instance. Now we are in a different place. We have been in it for well over a year. Which of the advantages that were set out in the initial appraisal still exist?