Written Answers. - Competition Authority.

Denis Naughten

Question:

216 Mr. Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of vacancies which currently exist within the Competition Authority; the positions where these vacancies exist; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20359/00]

John Perry

Question:

222 Mr. Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to the current manpower shortages at the Competition Authority; if her attention has further been drawn to the fact that requests to the authority to investigate issues arising under the Competition Acts have been declined on the basis of a lack of resources; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20616/00]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 216 and 222 together.

There are currently vacancies for five economists, three legal advisors and three administrative staff in the authority. Interviews for the recruitment of the vacant positions of economist and legal advisor have now been held and these posts will be filled shortly. The three administrative staff will be filled in the normal way by my Department.
This staffing situation placed major constraints on the authority's capacity to investigate new complaints. I am confident that this situation will now change as the newly recruited staff take up their positions.
To ensure that the situation regarding staffing is tackled comprehensively, my Department, together with the authority, is currently involved with outside consultants in a study of the authority's operations with a view to having its future resource requirements assessed. All staffing issues are being dealt with in the study.
I am fully committed to ensuring that the authority is adequately resourced to discharge its important statutory functions.