The Medium-Term Fiscal Statement, published in November last year, set out the Government’s economic and budgetary assessment for the four year period 2012-2015 including the estimated level of fiscal consolidation that is required to bring the General Government deficit below 3% of GDP by 2015, as the Government is committed to doing. The Comprehensive Expenditure Report 2012-2014, published in December 2011, set out the Government’s position as to how the aggregate expenditure would be split across individual Departments for each of the years 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Officials from all Departments are currently working to identify the appropriate policy measures to give effect to the medium-term budgetary adjustment while minimising the impact on public services. In this regard, I would remind the Deputy that as part of the ‘whole of year' budgetary approach in the Comprehensive Expenditure Report 2012-2014, I wrote to all Oireachtas Select Committees in January of this year inviting them to actively engage with the relevant Departments during this year’s Estimates process. Committees now have an opportunity to engage with the relevant Ministers in relation to the 2013 allocations. I am happy to report that a number of Committees have informally indicated that they intend to do so. I would encourage all Select Committees to give serious consideration to this approach as it will ensure a much wider engagement by all members of the Dáil in the annual Estimates, in advance of the allocations being agreed at Government level, and not afterwards as has traditionally been the case.
As to the wider budgetary process, I will be consulting closely with my colleague the Minister for Finance on arrangements for all budgetary and fiscal announcements for the remainder of the year.