The Government continues to make good progress on achieving all of our deficit targets and priorities, as articulated in the Government Programme. We are bringing public expenditure back onto a sustainable path 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 which is essential to achieving our annual deficit targets. To date, all quantitative fiscal targets set as part of the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support have been met in full.
The Expenditure Report 2013, published on 5 December 2012, includes further well-specified expenditure savings measures across every area of Government spending. While these structural economic and budgetary reforms that the Government is delivering will bring a return to prosperity and growth over the medium term, the current international economic position combined with the high levels of uncertainty across the world’s financial market will require Ireland to maintain fiscal discipline into 2014.
With regard to monitoring the performance of various Departments, it remains a matter for each Minister and their Departments to ensure that the Vote-level allocations are adhered to while at the same time ensuring that they continue to provide essential frontline services while managing increasing demands.
With this in mind, the new Medium Term Expenditure Framework aims to incentivise Departments through the implementation of a new “carryover” facility for Departments who exceed targets and successfully 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. Departments who exceed their current expenditure ceiling in any given year will, as a consequence, bear 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.