We are joined by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr. Seamus McCarthy, who is a permanent witness to the committee. He is joined by Mr. Brian Hill, senior auditor. Apologies have been received from Deputies Deering, Farrell and Cassells.
We will hold the minutes of the previous meeting over until next week. Therefore, we will deal next week with anything in the minutes and matters arising.
There are three categories of correspondence. The first category is A, briefing documents and opening statements for today's meeting. Nos. 2293A and 2297A are from Mr. Conor O'Kelly, CEO, National Treasury Management Agency, NTMA. These are his opening statement and briefing documents. We will note and publish these. That is agreed.
No. 2296 A from the HSE, dated 3 July, is a briefing statement for today's meeting on the State Claims Agency. We will note and publish this.
The second category is B, correspondence from Accounting Officers and-or Ministers and follow-up to meetings of the committee and other items for publishing. We have held over a couple of items from the previous meeting. The first is No. 2161B from Mr. Paul O'Toole, chief executive of the Higher Education Authority, dated 10 May, enclosing a report on the review of the relationship between Cork Institute of Technology and certain named companies and entities which was undertaken by Mazars. We published this a couple of weeks ago and there was an indication that some people would like to make some observations. If anyone wants to make an observation on that, that is fine, and if not, we will circulate it. If somebody wants to bring it back up the next time under minutes or matters arising, we will do so. I would like to deal with it formally today. Is that agreed? Agreed. People can raise the matter again the next day, if they want, before the break.
No. 2277B is from Ms Mary Lawlor, communications and public affairs manager, National Asset Management Agency, NAMA, dated 26 June, responding to further information requested by the committee on the payment of €1.9 million to the Revenue Commissioners in 2018. At our meeting of 13 June we reviewed the 2018 accounts for NAMA and highlighted this payment to the Revenue Commissioners in November 2018 in respect of an underpayment of VAT on certain services received from abroad. The payment included €600,000 in respect of interests and penalties. NAMA advised that the liability arose primarily in respect of a NAMA secured asset located abroad where invoices were settled directly with debtors, by debtors or their lawyers. These invoices were processed externally and were not subject to the normal internal processes for assessing whether a reverse charge VAT obligation arises. NAMA advised that it has amended its procedures to capture in real time any reverse charge VAT liability due. We will note and publish this. NAMA has clarified the matter in full. I stress that it was a voluntary disclosure by NAMA in the first instance.
No. 2284B is from Mr. Maurice Buckley, Chairman, Office of Public Works, dated 27 June, providing an update requested by the committee on the basis of the measurement to determine the rent on Miesian Plaza in Baggot Street, which is the head office for the Department of Health. A meeting is expected in the coming weeks with the landlord. We will note and publish this. We will get an update on that in due course as well.
No. 2291B is from Dr. Fergal Lynch, Secretary General, Department of Children and Youth Affairs, dated 1 July. Dr. Lynch is working on providing follow-up information requested at our recent meeting with the Department and has suggested a format for providing information on Pobal. The letter contains a template for how the Department proposes to provide the information. Unless any member can suggest an alternative layout in terms of the presentation of the information, I propose that we advise Dr. Lynch to proceed as suggested. The reason we have done this is because an enormous volume of information was requested at the meeting and we want to make the flow of information in some way manageable, and they want to agree a format with us. I am happy to proceed with this. When we get the information, if we want further information again thereafter, we can revisit the matter. For now we will ask them to provide the information based on the template that they have provided here today. That is agreed.
No. 2292B is from Ms Marie Mulvihill, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, dated 28 June, providing information requested at our meeting last week on the health budget oversight group. We will note and publish this. The matter arose as a result of recent correspondence that a health budget oversight group had been established, which people might not have been aware of and we might have seen reference to it. We think it is a good thing and follows on from a previous recommendation of the Committee of Public Accounts in our last periodic report where we stated that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform should engage directly with those Departments that have a history of a substantial requirement for Supplementary Estimates. The Department is acting on that but perhaps it was going to do so in any event. It has set up the membership of the health budget oversight committee. Officials confirmed here at the previous meeting that the group is only dealing with current expenditure and does not include capital expenditure. We would suggest that the group would also cover that. In the meantime, it is good that there is an oversight group to work on this issue. I will list the membership of the committee so that people will know its make-up: Mr. Ronnie Downes is the chairperson, and he is an assistant secretary in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; Mr. Colin Menton is an assistant secretary in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; Mr. Colm O'Riordan is a deputy secretary in the Department of Health; Mr. Colm Desmond is an assistant secretary in the Department of Health; Mr. Stephen Mulvany is the chief financial officer of the HSE; Mr. Liam Woods is the national director and chief operations officer in the HSE; and Ms Rosarii Mannion is the national director of human resources in the HSE. The secretariat is provided by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. I am delighted to see that there is such a group in place.