Expenditure Reviews

Questions (19, 29, 154, 155, 157, 158, 159, 161, 163)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

19. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which cost cutting targets set by his predecessors in the context of the memorandum of understanding have been met to date; if in the course of the review of the Croke Park agreement, cognisance will be taken of previous cost-cutting throughout the sector in order to ensure fairness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10348/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

29. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if in the context of cost-cutting exercises throughout the public sector, he has identified any particular Government Departments or bodies under their aegis, State or semi-State, which have performed better than others in terms of meeting targets; if particular cognisance is likely to be taken of the issues in such circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10349/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

154. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which public expenditure has been reduced by each Department in each of the past five years to date; the degree to which identified targets continued to be met in this regard; his projections for the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10712/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

155. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if she will indicate by each Department, the extent to which costs have been reduced under the separate headings of public expenditure reduction and-or public sector reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10713/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

157. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which savings have been achieved by each Government Department and relevant State or semi-State bodies under their aegis; the degree to which this meets any targets set; the extent of any revision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10715/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

158. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if any particular Government Department and their respective bodies under their aegis are expected to improve their performance in respect of savings, cost-cutting or reform targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10716/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

159. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if in the context of the on-going need to reduce costs in line with the memorandum of understanding entered into by his predecessors, he sees the need to incentivise the achievement of such targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10717/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

161. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the total extent of savings achieved to date in the past five years through the elimination of waste; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10719/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

163. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which he has identified any issues which have culminated in cost overruns in each Government Department and or their subordinate bodies and or agencies in each of the past four years to date; the action required to address any such issues arising; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10721/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 19, 29, 154, 155, 157 to 159, inclusive, 161 and 163 together.

The Government is making good progress on achieving all of our targets and priorities, as articulated in the Government Programme. We are bringing public expenditure back to a sustainable level and driving forward the public service reform agenda to ensure that efficiencies and reformed work practices play a full part in contributing to the overall budgetary consolidation effort.

The medium-term expenditure management process began with the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure (CRE) exercise in 2011, which was carried out by all Departments to identify ways of reducing expenditure, in line with commitments under the Joint EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland, while minimising the impact on service delivery.

Ministerial expenditure ceilings for 2012 - 2014 were introduced on an administrative basis in the Comprehensive Expenditure Report, published in December 2011. The CRE exercise forms the foundation of these ceilings and is the basis for all subsequent decisions on expenditure. The precise composition of the 2013 budgetary consolidation was set out in the Expenditure Report 2013, published on 5th December, 2012.

As regards the question of incentives to achieve targets and reduce costs, it is relevant to note that the Medium Term Expenditure Framework envisages a new “carryover” facility for Departments that manage their allocations within budget in any year, so that they can use these savings in the following year. Those Departments that are proactive in driving reform, innovation and structural planning will naturally be best-placed to avail of this facility into the future. The consequence on Departments who exceed their current expenditure ceiling in any given year will be the assimilation of an offsetting adjustment in their envelope for the following year, and they will be required to devise appropriate policy measures to live within the reduced allocation. It will be a matter for Ministers and Heads of Department/Office to devise forward-looking plans and policies and to ensure that the Ministerial Expenditure Ceilings are adhered to.

The Implementation Body has reported total savings in the order of €1.5 billion over the first two years of the Agreement, which comprises of approximately €810 million and €680 million in pay and non-pay savings respectively. This is happening in a climate of industrial peace in the Public Service. In addition, I welcome the recent proposals from the Labour Relations Commission agreed pay deal which will help reduce the Public Service pay bill by €1 billion. While good progress has been made on delivering savings and implementing change, it remains a matter for each Minister and their Departments to ensure that the Vote-level allocations are adhered to and at the same time ensure that they continue to provide essential frontline services and respond to increasing demands.

Public Sector Management Remuneration

Questions (20)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

20. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to assemble key data on high payscales in the public and private sectors such as through a new high pay commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10196/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I refer to my reply to Question No: 2834 of 23 January 2013. I have no plans to establish a new high pay commission to assemble pay data. The collection of pay data currently forms an important part of the services provided by the Central Statistics Office.

Public Procurement Tenders

Questions (21)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

21. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his attention has been drawn to the concerns raised by the school supply sector who believe their businesses cannot survive if excluded from the public procurement process; and the action he will take to tackle these concerns. [10432/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Leveraging the public procurement spend for the benefit of the economy as a whole has assumed increasing importance in these challenging economic times. Public procurement is discussed at policy level not only in terms of achieving cashable savings but also in terms of offering growth opportunities to small indigenous suppliers who have borne the brunt of the downturn in the domestic and international economy.

In NPS competitions, the tender documents explicitly seek to encourage the participation of SMEs. A prime example of this is when the NPS decided to divide the office supplies contract into three individual lots for Stationery, ICT Consumables and Paper. SMEs that believed the scope of the competitions were beyond their technical or business capacity were encouraged to explore the possibilities of forming relationships with other SMEs or with larger enterprises. Through such relationships they could participate and contribute to the successful implementation of any contracts that resulted from these competitions and therefore increase their social and economic benefits. Larger enterprises were also encouraged to consider the practical ways that SMEs could be included in their proposals to maximise the social and economic benefits of the contracts that result from these tenders.

Codex Ltd, an indigenous company, won the Stationery contract, with an estimated value of €10m per annum, and are sourcing up to 60% of their products using 136 local Irish agents and manufacturers.

Furthermore, the ICT Consumables contract, worth an estimated €8m per annum, was also won by another Irish SME, Datapac Limited. The NPS has also, as part of its education and development remit, an active programme to educate SMEs in how to participate effectively in the public service procurement process. To date the NPS has facilitated workshops and presented at seminars to over 3,500 SMEs nationwide.

Departmental Staff Recruitment

Questions (22)

Clare Daly

Question:

22. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will outline the numbers and cost of agency staff under the aegis of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10304/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

In response to the Deputy’s question the following table outlines the numbers and cost of agency staff in my Department or in State Agencies under the aegis of my Department:

Office of Public Works

Year

Numbers of Agency Staff

Cost (€’000)

2012

3

210

Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB)

Year

Numbers of Agency Staff

Cost (€’000)

2012

2.875 (Full Time Equivalent)

120 *

2013 (to date)

3.5 (Full Time Equivalent)

20

* The approximate costs to the Irish Exchequer would be €35,000 (representing 25% of the above total). The majority of costs relating to the numbers of agency staff used by the SEUPB are funded through Programme Technical Assistance. The remainder of these costs is jointly funded via the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in Ireland. (Therefore the cost to the Irish Exchequer is approximately 25% of the costs detailed above).

Commercial Rates Valuation Process

Questions (23)

Joe McHugh

Question:

23. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide an update in the revaluations process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10191/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

In accordance with the Valuation Act, 2001, which came into force on 2nd May, 2002, a national programme, under the direction of the Commissioner of Valuation, is being rolled out progressively for the revaluation of all commercial and industrial properties in the State.

The revaluation programme which has been completed in three County Council areas in Dublin began in November 2005 in the South Dublin County Council area and has since been rolled out to the areas covered by Fingal and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Councils. The revaluation of South Dublin was completed in December 2007, Fingal was completed in 2009 and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown was completed in 2010. The revaluation of Dublin City Council area began in May 2011 and will be completed this year. The Commissioner signed valuation orders for Waterford on 12th December, 2011 and Limerick on 29th March, 2012. The Waterford and Limerick revaluations will be completed in 2013 and 2014 respectively. At that stage, approximately 33% of all rateable properties in the country, representing over 50% of the national valuation base in monetary terms, will have been revalued. The Commissioner has also indicated his intention, subject to a statutory consultation process which is now underway, to sign Valuation Orders in relation to the Galway City Council, Carlow and Kilkenny rating authority areas during 2013.

Public Sector Staff Remuneration

Questions (24)

Clare Daly

Question:

24. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will ensure that there are no further pay cuts imposed on low and middle income public sector workers. [10303/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Discussions have taken place between public service employers and the Public Services Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions regarding the Government’s stated intention to reach agreement on securing the required overall savings from the public service pay and pensions bill by 2015. Following intensive engagement in recent days between the parties, which was facilitated by the Labour Relations Commission (LRC), the LRC has developed and recommended a set of proposals for consideration and agreement that seeks to secure the savings required by the Exchequer while ameliorating the impacts on public service staff particularly those on low and middle incomes to the greatest extent possible. Public servants will be able to consider the full set of proposals by the LRC which will be available shortly and the public service staff representatives who remained in negotiations have indicated that these proposals will be subject to ballot by members.

State Agencies

Questions (25)

John McGuinness

Question:

25. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the savings achieved to date from the rationalisation and elimination of State agencies; the additional savings expected in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10401/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Since the Government announced its programme of agency rationalisation measures in the Public Service Reform Plan, I have consistently argued that the real benefit from the rationalisation of State Bodies will be a less crowded administrative landscape resulting in greater democratic accountability, less duplication of effort and clearer lines of responsibility for the citizen. This will be of real and lasting benefit to all citizens, regardless of any headline figure on savings.

Specifically, the Public Service Reform Plan aimed to secure €20 million in enhanced service efficiencies and value-for-money from the rationalisation programme. This figure, however modest it appears, will be achieved. The bulk of the savings are derived from a reduction in the number of public servants working in the State Bodies affected. The rationalisation agenda is just one of the reform measures announced in the Public Service Reform Plan and the Programme for Government which facilitates the Government in ensuring delivery of critical services while still being able to reduce public service numbers.

There will of course be other cash savings realised over time as organisations, financial systems, office accommodation etc. are rationalised into leaner, more coherent structures. These savings, some of which will be once-off, will be factored into the overall budgetary framework as they arise.

Public Sector Pensions

Questions (26)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

26. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the saving to the Exchequer if he imposed public service pension reduction bands (details supplied) to all public sector pensions, including local authorities and State agencies. [10430/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

As the Deputy may be aware, only around 1% of public service pensioners are in receipt of a pension in excess of €60,000 and only a few hundred have a pension in excess of €100,000. The average public service pension is estimated at around €25,000 and many of these pensioners do not have any entitlement to the social welfare pension. I would add that there would be legal issues arising from a proposal to introduce a 99% reduction for pensions above a certain level. The changes in rates and bands proposed by the Deputy would save approximately €10 million gross in a full year.

Threshold

Band

First 12,000

0%

Between 12,000 and 24,000

6%

Between 24,001 and 60,000

9%

Between 60,001 and 80,000

20%

Between 80,001 and 100,000

50%

Above 100,000

99%

State Agencies

Questions (27)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

27. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the steps he will take to prevent the establishment of new State agencies and quangos; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10411/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The focus to date of this Government has been on the rationalisation of state bodies, and by the end of 2012 there were rationalisation measures fully implemented across 21 bodies and measures effecting a further 82 bodies at advanced legislative / administrative stages. The Programme for Government also contains a commitment that when a Department is proposing a new agency or state body, it must prove that the proposed new functions cannot be carried out within its existing structures. In November 2011, I strengthened this commitment by setting out a requirement in the Public Service Reform Plan that in future, legislation to create a new state body should include a ‘sunset clause’ ensuring that the body will cease to exist after a predetermined date unless the body’s mandate is specifically renewed.

Construction Contracts

Questions (28)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

28. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will consider, as part of the Construction Contracts Bill, a project bank account system, which was previously proposed by this Deputy and which has recently been progressed in Northern Ireland to ensure that only payments owing to subcontractors and individuals relating to particular projects can be made from specific bank accounts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10194/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I would refer the Deputy to my reply to his previous written PQ (PQ 9199/13 – answered 20 February 2013) in which I noted that the key objective of the Construction Contracts Bill is to ensure that cash flows down the supply chain on all construction contracts.

This is achieved by providing a statutory schedule of payments, prohibiting the use of ‘pay when paid’ clauses in construction contracts and, most importantly, it provides the means for subcontractors to enforce these rights; by suspending their labour and the provision of statutory adjudication. Given these provisions the requirement for security of payment reduces since the exposure of a subcontractor to non-payment is greatly reduced.

A range of security of payment options, including Project Bank Accounts were considered in the initial drafts of the Construction Contracts Bill and provision was made for devices such as bonds as part of the first draft of the Bill that was introduced to the Seanad by Senator Feargal Quinn. However such mechanisms were omitted from the current draft of the Bill in order to reduce the administrative and cost burden to the small businesses that make up a large proportion of our construction industry.

Policy in relation to public works contracts is reviewed on a regular basis by the Government Contracts Committee for Construction and the introduction of Project Bank Accounts is under consideration at present.