Wednesday, 28 January 2004

Questions (27)

Richard Bruton


132 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Transport the financial mechanisms in place to review infrastructural projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2301/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Transport)

As I stated in my reply to Question No. 82 of 20 November 2003, all major projects are subject to detailed assessment and evaluation including, at key stages, cost benefit analysis, in accordance with Department of Finance guidelines on the appraisal and management of capital projects.

The development of PPP projects takes account of Department of Finance interim guidelines on the assessment, appraisal and procurement of PPP projects. These guidelines focus on ensuring that the use of the PPP approach is justified on a value for money basis.

Last March, at my request, a new control system for major infrastructure projects was put in place in my Department. The infrastructure projects include national road construction, the Dublin port tunnel, CIE and Luas projects. I have received monthly reports on each of these projects since April. In November, I indicated that I would publish the reports for April to October as a single document. However, it now seems more appropriate to collate the reports up to the end of 2003 for publication as one document. It is my intention thereafter to publish the reports each month.

The State bodies under the aegis of my Department, which are responsible for the delivery of capital infrastructure, are obliged to comply with the requirements of the code of practice for the governance of State bodies, including conformity with the guidelines for the appraisal and management of capital expenditure in the public sector.

In addition to the above procedures, in terms of Luas, a light rail monitoring committee is in place comprised of representatives of my Department, the Department of Finance and the Railway Procurement Agency. It is assisted by independent technical experts who report to the Department on a monthly basis. The Railway Procurement Agency also reports monthly to my Department on programme and budgetary issues. My Department continuously reviews this and other information on the Luas project to ensure that the highest standards of project management are adhered to by the agency. Indeed, my Department reported to Government at critical stages of the Luas project. This included reporting on physical progress and budgetary considerations.

My Department also has in place an investment monitoring unit charged with overseeing the financial and physical progress of rail and bus infrastructure projects and ensuring the effective and timely financial reporting of capital expenditure by the CIE group of companies to the Department. The investment monitoring unit also engages consultants to carry out an audit of expenditure claims submitted to the Department seeking draw-down of Exchequer and EU funding under the National Development Plan 2000-2006.

The implementation of the national roads and public transport investment programmes is further monitored by my Department through the monitoring committee of the economic and social infrastructure OP which is representative of Departments, implementing agencies and social partners and which meets twice yearly to consider progress reports on the implementation of the investment programmes.

Question No. 133 answered with QuestionNo. 130.