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.
Reform of the Public Service is a critical component of the Government’s efforts to restore the public finances to sustainability, while ensuring that we continue to deliver essential services as efficiently and effectively as possible. It is for this reason that the comprehensive and far-reaching suite of reforms we have set out in the Public Service Reform Plan, published November 2011, are being implemented.
The reform process is delivering real savings, as demonstrated in the reports published by the independent Implementation Body established to monitor progress under the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 (the Croke Park Agreement). The First Progress Report of the Implementation Body found that some €308 million in non-pay administrative efficiency savings were made between July 2010 and March 2011. The Second Progress Report of the Implementation Body found that non-pay administrative efficiency savings of €370 million were made in the period April 2011 to March 2012. These savings are in addition to the substantial savings on the Public Service pay bill identified by the Implementation Body. The third Progress Report of the Implementation Body, covering the nine month period April 2012 to December 2012, will be published shortly and will show that further substantial savings were realised through efficiency improvements over this period.
Under the Public Service Reform Plan, an ambitious range of reform measures are being rolled out in areas such as shared services, public procurement and eGovernment and will enable Departments to meet their reduced budgetary allocations.
In addition, the measures set out in the Haddington Road Agreement will enable the Government to achieve the targeted savings of approximately €300 million in the public service pay and pensions bill in 2013, including savings on Local Government. Furthermore, it is estimated that the measures set out in the Haddington Road Agreement will reduce the public service pay and pensions bill by €1 billion by the end of the Agreement.
Of course, reform is needed not just to deliver on our fiscal targets but also to ensure that the State can continue to provide essential services in the face of falling staff numbers and reduced spending budgets. For that reason, Public Service reform will continue to be a key component of our overall strategic response to the economic situation.