Written Answers. - National Economic and Social Council.

Jim Higgins

Question:

55 Mr. Higgins (Mayo) asked the Taoiseach the number of reports pending from the National Economic and Social Council; the subject matter in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1634/99]

The National Economic and Social Council appointed in November 1998 has been meeting on a monthly basis since then. At the request of the Government, the main work of the council during 1999 will relate to the preparation of a new strategy report to provide a basis for a national agreement in succession to Partnership 2000.

Also, the NESC secretariat will continue to work on a study benchmarking Irish progress in the areas covered by the Partnership 2000 agreement both over time and by comparison with other countries. The subject matter includes work on education, taxation and child care. Some of the material in the benchmarking exercise will be drawn upon for the strategic review. It is intended that the results of the research will be published later in 1999.

A short report on profitability in the Irish economy and associated policy issues is also in preparation. The report is due to be considered by the council in the spring.

The NESC secretariat is also preparing a study of housing in Ireland. Its objectives are to provide an overview and assessment of the situation in the main housing sectors and to recommend a consistent set of policies designed to address the various problems in housing. The report will be published in 1999.

Other elements of a work programme may be agreed later by the council subject to the priority task of the strategic review.