Thursday, 13 December 2012

Questions (152)

Éamon Ó Cuív


152. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason for the underspend of €30 million, €19 million current and €11 million capital, against profile at the end of November; the steps being taken to ensure no underspend at year end in view of the pressure on farmers due to the poor weather and the number of farmers who have not received payments this year that are due to them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56118/12]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The total Vote funding provided for my Department in 2012 is €1.339 billion. This includes €27 million capital funding carried over from 2011.

A profile of projected expenditure on a monthly basis is drawn up at the beginning of each financial year in order to anticipate the Department’s funding requirements and financial management over the course of the year. The profile which is the best estimate of expenditure available at that time is difficult to forecast and may vary significantly during the year for a variety of reasons, such as the level of payments under demand led schemes, the pattern of draw-down of Grants-in-Aid by State bodies, etc.

The data published in the Exchequer return quoted in the question was prepared by my Department towards the end of November and was based on anticipated expenditure to the end of the month. The variation on net expenditure was €103m, arising mainly due to the fact that substantial payments under REPS scheduled for the last days of November actually issued in early December. The divergence between profiled and actual expenditure is due to the fact that, for a variety of reasons, a number of other budget lines were also behind profile at the end of November.

I expect that in most cases expenditure will ‘catch up’ before the end of the year. All elements of expenditure is being monitored and managed carefully by my Department with a view to minimising savings on this year’s Vote. While the final outcome is to a large extent driven by factors outside the Department’s control, I do not expect a significant underspend this year.