Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - CERT Funding


asked the Minister for Labour if he will give details of the further charges he proposes to impose on the hotel and catering industry to fund the activities of CERT.


asked the Minister for Labour if he will make a statement on the future of CERT as an independent agency.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 4 and 25 together.

When the amalgamation of manpower and training bodies was being considered last year the Government decided that CERT would retain its separate identity outside the new organisation, FÁS, set up under the Labour Services Act, 1987. I have no plans in mind to change the present independent status of CERT.

However, the Government also decided in July, 1987, that the hotel, catering and tourism industry should make a greater contribution to the overall cost of CERT's services. CERT are holding consultations at the moment with representatives of the various sectors of the industry, with a view to agreeing the level of contribution each sector should make. To date the only direct financial contribution made to the operations of CERT by the sectors to which it provides advisory and training services has been from the hotel sector channelled through the registration fees charged by Bord Fáilte. In addition, course fees are charged by CERT for inservice training courses. The amounts contributed in this way in 1987 were £16,000 and £203,000 respectively out of an overall budget in 1987 of £5,705,000.

What arrangements have been made to ensure that there is substantial contact between CERT and FÁS and that the two bodies work in close harness? Does the Minister's response indicate that the Government have rejected the views of the Price Water-house report which saw a future for CERT with the Department of Tourism? Regarding the contribution, is it the case that the Programme for National Recovery envisages that 300 extra trainees should be trained by CERT this year? The Estimates published provide for a reduction in expenditure by CERT and the Minister has explained this by saying that he will get an increase this year. Would he accept that if the target of 300 extra trainees is to be achieved on a smaller Estimate the extra contribution will have to be forthcoming fairly rapidly?

I have asked CERT and FÁS to work in co-operation. That is clearly understood.

Are there structures to achieve that?

I do not believe any structures have been set up. I am not sure they will be necessary. I think there will be fairly close co-operation. As part of the considerations on the Estimates for 1988 I discussed with the council of CERT what they could achieve in 1988. They were satisfied to reach the targets which they had set out, provided they got an increased contribution from the industry. Like my predecessors, I have been very anxious to get the industry to contribute more. Deputies will agree that a contribution of £16,000 towards a budget of almost £6 million is not acceptable for a body which provides such extra service to the tourism industry. The council of CERT have accepted these proposals and the means by which it is hoped to collect the money. That process is going on. I do not believe there is any difficulty about CERT reaching their targets for 1988. If they do not achieve the collection of this money there certainly will be a difficulty but for a number of reasons I intend that the money will be collected.

The Minister is accepting that central to the prospect of CERT achieving their target is that there should be this extra contribution from the industry. Will the Minister accept that the decisions which will have to be implemented will be all the harsher if they are delayed until well into the year and that it is in everybody's interest that the situation should be cleared up as quickly as possible?

I accept that.