As the Deputy will be aware, the actual roll-out of capital expenditure is a matter for line Departments, operating within the multi-annual budgetary allocations decided by Government and within delegated sanction arrangements issued by my Department.
How Departments spend their individual capital budgets throughout the year is dependent on what particular projects and programmes they will progress in that year. The profiling of monthly cash drawdown requirements from annual capital allocations is essentially an administrative exercise.
It is important to note that capital spending has general characteristics which influence the allocation drawdown pattern. Expenditure on capital projects typically occurs in large tranches at fixed milestones, unlike current expenditure which is generally continuous throughout the year. Obviously, this affects the phasing and profiling of capital expenditure. In addition, public financial rules require that payments are only made on foot of matured liabilities, so payments are made on foot of work that has already been satisfactorily completed.
An overall variance from the capital expenditure profile of between 10% and 12% is not unusual and within that variance there can be variations in spending patterns between Departments with some ahead of target. Departments have indicated that they do not expect any significant savings by year end and so expenditure is expected to return to profile at that stage.
All Departments are required to report to my Department on a monthly basis in relation to their actual expenditure (both capital and current) compared with their published profiles and to explain variances where they arise. My officials liaise with Departments to ensure that any issues are addressed promptly in order that there are no expenditure overruns and, in relation to capital expenditure, that projects and programmes are progressed in a timely manner. I am happy that the arrangements for monitoring capital expenditure which are in place are effective and robust.