I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
The Appropriation Bill 2014 is an essential element of financial housekeeping that, as Deputies are aware, must be concluded by the Dáil this year. The Bill serves two primary purposes. First, the Appropriation Bill is necessary to authorise in law all of the expenditure that has been undertaken in 2014 on the basis of the Estimates that have already been voted on by the Dáil during the year. The amounts included in section 1 and Schedule 1 to be appropriated for supply services all relate to amounts included in the Estimates or set out in the Revised Estimates Volume 2014, voted on by the Dáil in January 2014 as well as the Supplementary Estimates, also voted on by the Dáil in 2014. Second, the passage of the Appropriation Bill is essential to provide a legal basis for all existing voted expenditure to continue into 2015. It allows payments, including social welfare payments, salaries and pensions as well as payments to suppliers for goods and services to continue pending a vote by the Dáil on the 2015 Estimates.
Under the rolling five-year multi-annual capital envelopes introduced in budget 2004 Departments may carry over from the current year to the following year unspent capital up to a maximum of 10% of voted capital. Section 91 of the Finance Act makes legal provision for this capital carryover by way of deferred surrender. Under this enabling legislation the normal requirement under the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1866 to surrender unspent moneys in a financial year to the Central Fund may be deferred in the case of capital moneys, subject to certain conditions. Among these conditions is that the unspent capital sums must be set out in the Appropriation Act by reference to the Votes concerned. The Appropriation Act determines definitively the capital amounts which may be carried over to the following year. The capital carryover facility forms an integral part of the rolling multi-annual capital envelopes.
The multi-annual system is designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the management by Departments and agencies of capital programmes and projects. It recognises the difficulties inherent in the planning and profiling of capital expenditure and acknowledges that for myriad reasons capital projects may be subject to delays. The carryover facility allows for a portion of unspent moneys, which would have been lost to the capital programmes and projects concerned under the annual system of allocating capital, to be made available for spending on programme priorities in the subsequent year.
The amounts of capital carryover by Vote are set out in Schedule 2. It is proposed to carry over a little over €79 million from a total capital programme of over €3.5 billion. This €79 million is split across seven Votes, with the largest amounts arising on the Votes of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The liabilities in respect of the first payroll payments to staff and pensioners mature on 1 and 2 January 2015 and form part of the supply services for 2015. However, as funding must be in place to ensure staff and pensioners have access to funds on these dates, Departments and Government offices will need to pre-fund their commercial bank accounts. Section 3 puts in place a mechanism to provide for advances from the Central Fund to the Paymaster General's supply account in December 2014. These advances are to be repaid to the Central Fund in January 2015.
A provision in the Appropriation Bill provides legal authority for Departments and Government offices to have a credit issued in respect of the Central Fund. This facilitates the accounting treatment of salaries and pensions payable on 1 and 2 January 2015 as expenditure that comes under moneys voted by the Dáil in 2015 in respect of which the usual processes and mechanisms for voted moneys in 2015 will apply.
Section 15(1) of the Health Service Executive (Financial Matters) Act 2014 provides that from 1 January 2015 the Health Service Executive Vote shall cease to exist and the salaries and expenses and certain other services administered by the Health Service Executive, including miscellaneous grants, shall form part of the Vote of the Office of the Minister for Health. Section 3 of the Appropriation Act 1999, as amended by section 4 of the Appropriation Act 2005, provides that funds relating to certain excise duties on tobacco products be transferred by the Revenue Commissioners as appropriations-in-aid to the Health Service Executive. The amount involved is approximately €167 million. The incorporation of the HSE Vote into the Vote of the Office of the Minister for Health requires that these excise duty receipts be appropriated to the Vote of the Minister for Health with effect from 1 January 2015. This change requires a revision to section 3 of the Appropriations Act 1999, as set out in section 4 of the Appropriation Bill 2014.
I remarked at the outset that the Appropriation Bill is an essential element of housekeeping which those of us in the Dáil are required to undertake. The passing of the Bill will authorise in law all of the expenditure that has been undertaken in 2014 on the basis of the Estimates voted on by the Dáil during the year. Crucially, passage of the Appropriation Bill will allow the payments required to deliver our public services and pay our public servants to continue in 2015 in the period before the Dáil approves the 2015 Estimates.