John FitzGerald: ESRI warning

Taxpayers could lose all the additional money the government plans to put into Anglo Irish and Irish Nationwide, according to John FitzGerald, research professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).

However, taxpayers will fare much better with the money already injected into other banks and they will probably get back the money taken by AIB and Bank of Ireland when the government starts selling the large stakes it will end up owning in the stock market-listed banks, Fitz­Gerald predicted.

Ireland's leading independent economist said the good news for taxpayers was that despite continuing challenging economic conditions, the total bill for recapitalising the Dublin banks is unlikely to exceed the €20bn-€24bn the ESRI estimated last spring.

With €11bn already injected into AIB, Bank of Ireland and Anglo Irish, the government will need to put in an additional €10bn-€12bn to complete the process of underpinning all the banks here, he said.

FitzGerald said that he did not know what slice of the estimated €12bn in extra taxpayer funds that Anglo would require, but the taxpayer would probably face "a permanent loss" from its Anglo investment.

AIB and Bank of Ireland, which last year each received €3.5bn from the taxpayer, will receive additional money.

Government stakes in the two banks could range from a large minority stake to ownership of up to three quarters control.

AIB and Bank of Ireland can be turned around to be profitable enterprises and "if run properly" taxpayers could get back the money put into the lenders.