QUESTION NO: 285
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin)
by Deputy Bernard J. Durkan
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 23/06/2015
To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the degree to which he and his Department continues to monitor the performance of all Government Departments and State or semi-State agencies, with a view to maximising their contribution toward economic recovery; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
While my Department sets out Departmental expenditure ceilings and monitors spending on an ongoing basis, it is a matter for individual Ministers and their Departments to decide on the specific projects and programmes that will be delivered from within these allocations and to ensure adherence to Ministerial Expenditure Ceilings.
Expenditure profiles for all Departmental Vote Groups are published each year and set out expected expenditure trends for the year ahead. Each Department and Office reports current and capital expenditure figures on the basis of monies issued to them from the Central Fund, referred to as ‘Issues’, immediately prior to the end of each month. My Department monitors the expenditure issues figures against the published profiles. These figures are also included in the Exchequer Statement which is published on the second working day of the following month. I also report to Government on a monthly basis on the emerging trends in the public finances.
Under the NewERA initiative (whereby NewERA provides financial and commercial advisory services to relevant Ministers on the activities of certain commercial State companies) the Government has reformed the manner in which it manages its relationship with the Commercial State Sector. As part of the reform, NewERA has developed, in conjunction with the relevant Government Departments, a Shareholder Expectations Framework intended to provide clarity and guidance for each of the 6 commercial State entities within its remit in relation to the Government’s strategic priorities, policy objectives, and financial performance and reporting requirements.
My Department has also been working with other relevant Departments, reviewing the shareholder management and oversight arrangements applying across the wider commercial state sector. The intention is to introduce a more structured and consistent approach to the management and oversight of these companies also, and the entire commercial State sector, modelled on the approach already adopted for the NewERA companies. This will include establishing a Shareholder Expectations Framework for each such company, which will include the development of a specific and appropriate dividend policy for each such company.
The measures taken by this Government, combined with the effective prioritisation and allocation of resources to vital areas, has ensured our success in restoring stability to the public finances. This stability is a necessary pre-requisite to creating an environment that encourages economic growth. The Deputy will note that in 2014 the economy expanded by 4.8% to become the fastest growing economy in Europe, with domestic demand and personal consumption now contributing to economic growth. Unemployment at the end of May was at 9.8% down from its peak of over 15% in 2011.
As outlined in the Spring Economic Statement, Ireland is on track to exit the Excessive Deficit Procedure at the end of this year with a projected general government balance of 2.3% of GDP. The improved economic and fiscal outlook will allow the Government to build on the progress made in supporting economic growth and job creation.