Thursday, June 29, 2006

Asset-stripping Belfast's port

Looks like the Port of Belfast may be sold off:
Pressure was mounting on the government today to spell out its future plans for Belfast Port.

Concern is rising that the Department for Regional Development intends to 'asset strip' the port and sell off key parts of the business - which, along with its associated land bank could be worth millions - to the private sector.

Fears of the potential break-up of the port were sparked by the publication of a Ports Policy review by the DRD last week.

The Port of Belfast has now called for an urgent meeting with Regional Development Minister David Cairns to discuss the content of the review and its implications for Northern Ireland.

The Port of Belfast's commercial director, Joe O'Neill, warned that the review will 'seriously undermine' the Port's £140m capital investment programme and impede its ability to compete with cross border ports.


Belfast Port handles almost two thirds of Northern Ireland's sea borne trade and is a vital gateway for raw materials, exports and consumer goods for the whole of Ireland.

Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor Pat McCarthy, said he is very concerned about the Port's potential asset stripping.
Compare the fears and concerns mooted in that story with a post at the ASI blog yesterday on asset strippers:
Asset strippers may be demonized by Hollywood, but their role in promoting prosperity is significant. When companies underperform and become fat and lazy, asset strippers rearrange their assets so that they are used in a more efficient way. Trade unions, being inherently conservative, don't like it, but it the process of asset stripping in the 1980s was essential for getting Britain's economy back on track. Instead of being bad for jobs, asset stripping has created more and better jobs. No longer can companies sit around wasting away shareholders' assets.
It strikes me that selling off the Port to the private sector could increase the competitiveness of the port and, if correctly handled, would greatly benefit the local economy.


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