The last fiscal assessment report from the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council was published in November 2018. It described the Government's medium-term budgetary plans as not credible. It said the Government's budgetary plans were not conducive to prudent economic and budgetary management.
The next report from the council will be due in approximately three weeks. It will make for interesting reading given what has emerged since the previous report was published six months ago. We now know the overall cost of the national children's hospital has spiralled to €1.73 billion and the Government is prepared to commit up to €3 billion on the national broadband plan. All of this is new information that was not accounted for in the previous budget. We have heard no plan for how these commitments will be funded. In fact, these two projects on their own leave a very big hole in the Government's numbers. We know from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform memorandum of earlier this month as well as from parliamentary questions tabled by Deputy Barry Cowen that the national broadband plan contract would require almost an extra €500 million over the next three years alone to 2022. This comes to a total of €1.6 billion extra over the lifetime of the national development plan to 2027. The extra amount needed for the national children's hospital over the next three years is €385 million. Between the two of these the Government needs to find an extra €900 million over the next three years. The overall shortfall for these two projects is in the region of €2 billion over the lifetime of the national development plan. These are not Fianna Fáil's numbers. These are the numbers from the Government's spending watchdog, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
Again, I wish to emphasise that these are additional costs, above and beyond what was provided for only a few months ago. On top of that, the Taoiseach made a political promise in recent months that he would give a €2.3 billion income tax cut in the lifetime of the next Government, if he was lucky enough to be leading it.
In effect, the Government has made unfunded commitments of more than €4 billion over the next number of years. It seems to me that the Government is committing money it simply does not have, and these commitments are essentially unfunded. All of this is against the backdrop of most economists predicting that there will be a slowdown in growth over the coming years, that the risks we are facing are now on the downside, and that we need to plan accordingly. Most worryingly of all, the Tánaiste's report to Cabinet today states that the risk of a no-deal Brexit has never been greater.
Will the Taoiseach explain to the House, and more importantly to the people, how he is going to fund this shortfall of €900 million in the next three years, and indeed €4 billion out to 2027? If he is to keep his promises, then he has a few simple choices. He can raise taxes, cut spending, borrow more money, postpone or cut other capital projects, or he can simply hope that the booming corporation tax receipts we have enjoyed in recent years continue indefinitely. Which of these options is it?