Question No. 29 answered with Question No. 19.
Public Sector Staff Remuneration
Mary Lou McDonaldQuestion:
30. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide in tabular form the saving to the Exchequer if public sector increments were withdrawn for all pay under €50,000, between €50,001 and €60,000, between €60,001 and €70,000 and more than €70,000. [10429/13]
Based on updated information submitted to my Department on the total cost of increments in a full year in the various sectors, the full year cost of increments in the public service (excluding the Local Authority sector) is now estimated at some €150 million per annum. My Department will review the information available to it on the cost of increments across the public service and write to the Deputy with relevant information on those costs.
31. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the changes he plans to the budgetary process and timetable for budget 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10388/13]
The “two-pack”, which has just been agreed at EU level, reinforces the European Semester process and introduces a common budgetary timeline for all Euro-area Member States both in relation to the publication of the national budget and the enactment of the legislation.
Member States are required to publish their draft budget for central government and the main parameters of all other General Government sub-sectors no later than 15 October, each year. The common budgetary timeline also requires that the final budget should be adopted by 31 December.
Accordingly, much of our existing budgetary process, which is currently completed in the first week of December, will have to be progressed earlier in the year. Both myself and my colleague, the Minister for Finance, will be considering the precise implications for Ireland's traditional budgetary process to ensure that Ireland complies with these new arrangements.
Freedom of Information Legislation
32. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he intends consulting with the Information Commissioner in relation to those State agencies and or bodies which may be excluded from the freedom of information legislation to be introduced later this year; his views on the possible limitations that will come with the inclusion of An Garda Síochána, refugee and asylum agencies as set out in the draft heads of the Bill. [10444/13]
Decisions on the application of Freedom of Information to public bodies are a matter for Government based on proposals presented to them by me as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Government decided last July to endorse the principle contained in the Programme for Government that Freedom of Information should apply to all public bodies subject to some exemptions - in whole or in part - agreed in the public interest. In developing my proposals, I have had regard to the views publicly expressed by the Information Commissioner in relation to the application of FOI to public bodies.
In terms of the inclusion of An Garda Siochána, it remains my intention that Freedom of Information will apply to the administrative records of An Garda Siochána, subject to security exceptions, as set out in the Programme for Government. In the cases of the refugee and asylum agencies, no exemption or exclusion is being proposed, in line with the long-standing position of the Information Commissioner that FOI should apply to these bodies in line with best international practice.
Croke Park Agreement Implementation
33. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on whether the volume and quality of services delivered to the public will be improved as a result of the outcome of the Croke Park talks; the way this is measured; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10386/13]
The Government has, and will continue to be acutely aware of the needs and interests of the users of public services and the quality of those services. The Government’s ambitious Public Service Reform Plan was published in November, 2011 and sets out the basis for the comprehensive and strategic reform of the Irish Public Service. The Plan includes a core commitment to “place customers at the core of everything we do ”. In the context of a smaller and leaner Public Service, there is a requirement to become more strategic and flexible and to focus on supporting citizens and businesses where and when they need it most.
The recent discussions between public service management and the ICTU Public Services Committee have resulted in a set of proposals from the Labour Relations Commission on a series of pay and productivity measures in order to achieve the Government’s target of an additional €1 billion in savings as part of our determination to meet our fiscal targets.
The proposals contain a number of reforms and workplace changes that will help to ensure that front line services are maintained and in some areas improve these services, in the face the necessary reduction in the numbers of public service staff.
The full details of the LRC proposals are available on my Departments website.