THIS week it emerged the government plans to pump another €1.4bn into Anglo Irish Bank, bringing the fresh capital advanced by the taxpayer to Anglo to €24.3bn. Most of this will never be seen again. In addition NAMA is paying at least €16bn to buy its bad loans.
The government has also shovelled money into Irish Nationwide, which has received €2.7bn in fresh capital and NAMA is to pay about €3.6bn for its bad loans, a total of €6.3bn. The government will squander almost €50bn on two banks that will never again lend a cent, a sum that could be used far more sensibly.
1 RUN THE COUNTRY FOR ALMOST A YEAR This year the government will spend about €61bn on public services including social welfare, health, education, law and order as well as new roads, schools and hospitals. €50bn would pay for all these for 10 months.
2 BUILD NINE METRO NORTHS AND DART UNDERGROUNDS Last month the government announced its revised capital spending programme to the end of 2016. The centrepiece was the Dublin Metro North and DART Underground. These two projects will cost at least €5.7bn. With the money bailing out Anglo and Irish Nationwide we could build nine Metro Norths and DART Undergrounds.
3 REPAY OVER HALF THE NATIONAL DEBT The national debt, excluding a likely €80bn to bail out the six Irish-owned banks, is €85bn. If Anglo and the Nationwide had been let go we could have used the €50bn to repay more than half this.
4 PAY THE PUBLIC SECTOR FOR TWO-AND-A-HALF YEARS This year, the total public sector pay and pensions bill will be €19bn. The €50bn wasted on Anglo and Irish Nationwide would have paid every civil servant, nurse, doctor, teacher and policeman in the country for 30 months.
5 FUND SOCIAL WELFARE SPENDING FOR TWO YEARS Despite the 4pc cut in most social welfare payments in last December's budget the government still plans to spend €21bn on social welfare this year. With the numbers on the live register having soared to over 450,000 and still rising rapidly, the actual number is likely to be much higher, but €50bn would still be enough to fund social welfare for at least two years.
6 MEET HEALTH SPENDING FOR THREE YEARS This year the government will spend €15.3bn on health, down almost €700m on €16bn in 2009. With the government strapped for cash, more cuts are inevitable in December, thus fewer doctors and nurses and closed wards. The money wasted on Anglo and Nationwide would have funded health for three years.
7 PAY FOR EDUCATION FOR FIVE YEARS This year the government proposes to spend €8.9bn on education. Like other forms of public spending, the education budget is under desperate pressure. The money disappearing into the Anglo and Irish Nationwide black hole could have educated our kids for the next five years.
8 Build a couple of nuclear power stations With Energy Minister Eamon Ryan about to slap a 5pc "green tax" on electricity bills, it is clear the issue of nuclear power can't be avoided much longer. Guaranteed to produce power 24/7 with zero carbon emissions, it has to be part of the mix. Two 1,000MW nuclear plants would cost "only" €4.7bn, leaving more than €45bn change from the cost of the bailout.
9 PAY BRIAN COWEN'S SALARY FOR 219,000 YEARS Even after a recent 20pc pay cut, Taoiseach Brian Cowen is still one of the best-paid leaders in the developed world, pulling down €228,000 a year. While that seems like a fortune, €50bn would pay the Taoiseach for the next 219,298 years!
10 FLY NOEL DEMPSEY AROUND THE WORLD 52,000 TIMES Last month it was revealed the government jet had flown Noel Dempsey from Dublin to Derry so he wouldn't have to travel all the way from the capital to the McGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal by ministerial limo. Using the government jet for his Glenties jaunt cost the taxpayer about €8,000. At €50bn we could fly Dempsey around the world 52,083 times. Of course, we could, for the same money, blast Dempsey and his cabinet colleagues into outer space, which might prove an altogether better investment.