Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Is Mary *trying* to close BUPA

Jesus, Mary Harney either really hates BUPA or really loves the VHI, I'm not sure which. She must do to go so much out of her way to close off the loop hole that would have allowed BUPAs new owner the Quinn Group to declare themselves a new operator in the market and avoid having to pay millions of euros to VHI in risk equalization payments for the next 3 years.

The Dail is sitting in emergency session tonight in order to rush through a change in the law which will then be signed by President McAleese. Getting all members of Parliament out of the pub after work hours and keeping the President awake is not an every day event. If I was in the Quinn Group I'd be ringing every Munster based Dail deputy explaining that if they pass this law tonight the Quinn Group will have to pull out of the BUPA deal and hope VHI will employ the 300 people currently working for BUPA in Cork. Governments protecting former state monopolies, driving new companies out of the country and putting people on the dole queue just before an election are not exactly vote winners.

I remember just 18 months ago Mary was telling the Irish public that they should shop around for better prices. I wonder would one shop around if the local authorities kept adding extra taxes on new shops that attempted to open up in a town.

Update: Quinn Group have just announced that while they will fight the legislation through the appropriate channels they will continue with the purchase of BUPA. As someone pointed out earlier today why wouldnt they stay in when they are operating in what now amounts to a closed market since few other companies will want to come into the market. Mary Harney says she is committed to overhauling the health insurance market, shame she hasnt shown the same eagerness to tackle the actual health system, but sure why deal with the big issues when the little ones are so much more fun?


Fergus O'Rourke said...

You came down in the last shower, did you ? I am not a Harney fan or even a PD supporter, but what she did this week was what had to be done. It's ridiculous to suggest that new taxes are being imposed; the fact is that the levies were put in place more than 10 years ago. BUPA - a company which had a "certain reputation" even before it inflicted itself on us - gambled on intimidating the Government into abandoning the system, and lost. Thank God. (That is not to say that the system is perfect; I am quite content to have it reviewed).

Declan said...

Why did they not impose a similar levy on other industries. Say when Esat started as a mobile phone company, why not force them to pay millions to Telecom Eireann since TE had to continue providing land lines to places not covered by mobile masts? Or how about forcing Ryanair to pay money to Aer Lingus because Aer Lingus covers trans atlantic routes?

I found it telling over the last couple of days when BUPA and VIVAS offered to take a share of the older members VHI are complaining about and VHI refused. VHI operate in a fantasy land protected by Mary Harney.

-Ann said...

Oh the delicious irony of this situation is not just that the Government is trying to protect a state monopoly and making life difficult for competition but that a PD minister is behind it. You know, the PDs, tireless campaigners for unbridled capitalism and breaking up transportation monopolies and letting the market decide what happens.