Opposition spending demands to be scrutinised by IFAC under new Bill – Heydon

-   Barry Duggan

A BILL to examine lavish spending proposals from opposition parties by the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council (IFAC) ahead of every budget is being introduced to the Dáil today.

Fine Gael party chairman Martin Heydon brought the Fiscal Responsibility (Amendment) Bill 2019 to put his proposal into statute.

Deputy Heydon, a Kildare South TD, said: “Time and time again we see opposition parties promise lavish spending without having to account where the money will come from.

“Constantly, we see Fianna Fáil representatives calling for increased funding on whatever the topic of the day is without being asked to explain how they would fund their opulent proposals. It is simply reckless.

“This Bill would amend the Irish Fiscal Responsibility Act 2012 to mandate the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council to assess the policies and proposal of opposition political parties in advance of each Budget. This is something that I raised with both Minister Paschal Donohoe and the Chairman of IFAC, Seamus Coffey, who suggested this is something that should be considered in Ireland. Giving IFAC extra powers to examine opposition proposals will serve the country well in the long run.

“The reason I am introducing this legislation is because I am worried with the lack of analysis given to Fianna Fáil’s spending and policy proposals. Having independent, expert analysis of opposition spending calls and financial policies is important so the public are well informed. 

“As my colleague Deputy Peter Burke outlined earlier this year, Fianna Fáil made spending demands worth €4.35bn in the first six months of 2019. Deputy Martin has been asked on many occasions to explain these calls but instead resorted to deflection saying it is juvenile and childish. Deputy Martin may think making wild spending calls is a trivial matter, but voters do not share that view.

“The absence of coherent well thought out policies coming from Fianna Fáil was made clear by Deputy Colm Brophy when he outlined that just five out of 22 Fianna Fáil front bench TDs have produced a policy paper since the current Fine Gael led Government was formed in 2016.The only consistent policy that Fianna Fáil seems to have had since 2016 is to make more and more lavish spending proposals.

“If that’s their policy, that’s their policy – however we need to know how they are going to pay for it. Increased taxation? Increased borrowing? Cutting spending in other areas?

“I am genuinely interested, and I think the people we work for have a right to know,” the Kildare Deputy said.

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