Will it work?
Caroline Spillane, Engineers Ireland
This idea has definite merit. There are very many examples of this model working in Europe and further afield. Dublin city competes with numerous cities overseas and it is important for Dublin to have investment so that it can compete on an international level. If Dublin could raise its own finances, this might free up capital for investment from central government in other areas of the country. However, there will always be an effective subvention from the capital to other areas, where providing services such as broadband requires more investment.
Cliff Taylor, economics columnist
An interesting one. This requires a fundamental recasting of the role and powers of a local authority. Debt raising has been the preserve of national government. This again requires powers to devolve from the centre to local level. The cost is hard to quantify. It is important to ensure that Dublin debt would not cost more to raise than national debt. And this requires a guaranteed income flow to make repayments. Local property tax would be one source, but more revenue raising powers would need to devolve to Dublin as well. The idea of local people investing in bonds from their local area is interesting. Would the benefit outweigh the cost? It would all depend on the efficiency of raising the money and of spending it. It is unlikely to fly politically in a country where Dublin is already seen as getting the bulk of the economic recovery dividend. But some way needs to be found to address the huge investment deficit in Dublin more quickly.
Frances Ruane, former ESRI director
This idea focuses on new financial resources. Many cities issue bonds successfully, so there is good evidence on how this might work in Dublin and there is expertise nationally (in the National Treasury Management Agency, for example) that could be drawn on. But the first step is to have the right projects for funding and Dublin City Council is starting from a very challenging place, given the boom/crash/boom sequence since 2000. Assuming that the right projects were identified, the cost of implementing this proposal should not be significant.