Exchequer boosted by €179m in semi-State dividends, mostly from ESB

Profits have been soaring at power company

Commercial semi-State companies have to date this year paid out aggregate dividends of €179.4 million to the exchequer, with the bulk of this drawn from ESB.

The €179.4 million paid out to date, 2022 is already 18 per cent or €27.7 million in excess of the €151.7 million dividends paid out by the semi-State companies to the exchequer for the 12 months of last year.

In a written Dáil reply to Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe confirmed that the bulk of the dividend has come from the ESB in 2022 at €121.6 million. The sum paid over by the ESB to date this year compares to €77.67 million paid by the semi-State company in 2021 and €47.6 million paid in 2020.

On the back of the ESB’s soaring operating profits of €357 million before exceptional items reported for the first six months of this year, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the State “can look forward to a much higher dividend” from the ESB in 2022.

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In his written reply, Mr Donohoe said the other main contributors of dividends this year are the operator of Bord Gáis and Irish Water, Ervia and Bord na Móna.

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Mr Donohoe confirmed that Ervia’s 2022 dividend to the exchequer is €30.1 million. This is down on dividends of previous years — in 2021 Ervia paid out a dividend of €38.43 million, in 2020 it paid €70.95 million, €139.4m in 2019 and €139 million in 2018.

Bord na Móna’s 2022 dividend of €21.6 million is a multiple of dividends paid out in previous years. The semi-State recorded more than a tripling of pretax profits from €27.75m to €85.1 million in the 12 months to the end of March this year. Bord na Móna paid €6.39 million in 2021 and no dividends in 2020, 2019 or 2018.

Coillte’s dividend payment to date this year totals €5 million and this compares to €25 million for 2021, €2.3 million for 2020 and €13 million for 2019.

Mr Donohoe said no dividend has to date been received from the Dublin Port Company this year. The last dividend paid out by the port company was €4.1 million in 2019.

Other semi-State port companies that have this year paid out dividends include Shannon Foynes Port (€400,000), the Port of Waterford (€266,135) and the Port of Cork (€250,000). EirGrid this year has yet to pay out a dividend after paying €4 million for each of the years spanning 2017 and 2021.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times