Exchequer Savings

Questions (74, 75, 77, 79, 80, 82)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

74. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which expenditure and savings targets are likely to be met throughout the current year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23922/14]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

75. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if any particular areas, Departments or bodies under their aegis have been identified as having potential for over-expenditure in the current year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23923/14]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

77. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which he has had discussions with the various stakeholders in the context of any possible alleviation of the impact of savings or cutbacks in expenditure arising from the requirements of the troika; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23925/14]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

79. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the degree to which, based on previous years' performance, he expects to achieve savings required or identified by the troika; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23927/14]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

80. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the degree to which each Department or body continues to meet targets in respect of public expenditure and reform as identified in the course of discussions with the troika; if any specific areas indicate a lessening of pressure to achieve savings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23928/14]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

82. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which his Department makes comparisons with other jurisdictions in achieving savings or reforms; the extent to which this is reflected in improved competitiveness in this economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23930/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 74, 75, 77, 79, 80 and 82 together.

Managing the delivery of public services within the Departmental Budgetary allocation is a key responsibility of each Minister and Department, and several measures are in place to help ensure that these budgetary targets continue to be met.  My Department is in regular communication with all Departments and Offices to ensure that expenditure is being controlled and we monitor their drawdown of funds from the Exchequer against the published expenditure profiles.

In relation to the previous year's performance, the end-December Exchequer returns outlined that voted expenditure was well within budget for 2013. Overall net voted expenditure of €43.1 billion was €0.3 billion below the budget profile for 2013. Any overruns in individual Departments were more than offset by savings in other Departments.

The expenditure position up to the end of May this year is that total gross expenditure of just under €21.7 billion is 0.6% (€140 million) below profile. The Government is committed to ensuring that our fiscal targets for 2014 are achieved, and in this regard my Department meets regularly with line Departments to review financial management with regular reporting to Government on these matters.

Following on from Ireland's successful exit from the Troika programme in December last year, the Government's fiscal target for 2015 is to bring the General Government Deficit below 3% of GDP, in line with our commitments under the Excessive Deficit Procedure. 

The Comprehensive Review of Expenditure and the Review of Capital Expenditure that are currently in progress will inform discussions in relation to Budget 2015, including Government decisions on the expenditure ceilings for the years ahead, and will underpin decisions on the specific expenditure measures required to meet our fiscal targets for 2015.  Decisions on the Budget will be informed by the up-to-date economic and fiscal outlook at that time. 

The ongoing delivery of expenditure savings requires a robust public expenditure framework.  The new Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) was first introduced in 2011 and provides for a more effective examination of public expenditure.  The new framework takes account of the experience of a number of other OECD countries who also implemented a MTEF in recent years.  Part III of the Expenditure Report 2014 sets Ireland's public expenditure framework in the context of the international experience, drawing on a number of OECD research papers.  On the reform front, the Public Service Reform Plan (PSRP) 2014-2016 was published in January this year. The development of the plan was led and coordinated by the Reform and Delivery Office in my Department, in collaboration and consultation with key stakeholders across the Public Service. The plan is also informed by best practice in the Public Service in other jurisdictions and in the private sector, where appropriate.

Exchequer Savings

Question No. 77 answered with Question No. 74.

Questions (76, 81)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

76. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which the targets identified in the Haddington Road agreement remain on course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23924/14]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

81. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if in the context of the Croke Park agreement and Haddington Road agreement, cost reductions in line with other adjoining jurisdictions have been achieved to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23929/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 76 and 81 together.

It is important to note that public servants have made a significant contribution to our overall fiscal recovery to date. In this context, the Public Service Exchequer Pay Bill has been reduced by 22%, from €17.5 billion gross in 2009 to an estimated €13.6 billion net by the end of 2014.

In relation to the Croke Park Agreement, I am satisfied that the Agreement delivered on its objectives, facilitating the delivery of €1.8 billion in cost reductions over its lifetime, a view shared by the Implementation Body in their final report. 

As the Deputy is aware, the Haddington Road Agreement will facilitate a €1 billion reduction in the Public Service Pay and Pensions Bill by 2016.  That remains the key objective of the Agreement and I am satisfied that the various measures negotiated under the Agreement will deliver on this target.  

In 2013, the Public Service Exchequer Pay Bill reduced by €210 million. This reduction was enabled, in part, by the implementation of various measures under the Haddington Road Agreement which helped to ensure that spending remained in line with profile and resulted in Ireland delivering on our fiscal target for 2013.

To date, over 75% (€762 million) of the €1 billion savings target has been allocated to the various Votes and other non-Exchequer sources as appropriate, approximately €300 million of which was allocated in 2013 and a further €462 million in 2014.

The focus is now on the comprehensive delivery of the Agreement and that task falls to public service management and each Department's Accounting Officer  to deliver the required level of savings to ensure that their respective pay bill targets are met.

Question No. 77 answered with Question No. 74.

Exchequer Savings

Questions Nos. 79 and 80 answered with Question No. 74.

Question No. 81 answered with Question No. 76.

Questions (78)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

78. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which the various public sector reforms entered into over the past number of years continue to yield in line with expectations in terms of savings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23926/14]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Government is continuing to make good progress on achieving its overall deficit targets and priorities.  Since its peak in 2009, Gross Voted Expenditure has been reduced from €63.1 billion in 2009 to a targeted €53 billion in 2014.  Staff numbers have been reduced by over 30,000 since 2008, at the same time as demand for public services significantly increased.

In the context of bringing public expenditure back onto a sustainable path, meaningful reform of the Public Service has been essential to ensure that we can maintain and improve services.  In November 2011, we set out our programme of reforms in our first Public Service Reform Plan.  In January this year, I published a report setting out the progress made under the first Reform Plan.  At the same time, I also published the Government's second Public Service Reform Plan, setting out our ambition for the next three years.

As well as enabling services to be maintained in the context of reduced resources and improving services, a number of reforms have delivered, and will deliver, significant cost savings.  To give just some examples:

- The Croke Park Agreement delivered €1.8 billion in pay and non-pay savings.  The Haddington Road Agreement sets out a number of measures to deliver a further reduction of €1 billion in the Public Service pay and pensions bill by 2016.  It also provides for a total of 15 million additional working hours annually across all sectors of the Public Service, which will help to deliver long term and sustainable increases in productivity;

- We have undertaken a major review of public procurement and are now implementing a radical overhaul of our approach, with the new Office of Public Procurement targeting €500 million in savings over the next three years (€127 million this year);

- We are introducing shared services for a range of back-office functions to increase efficiency and integration across organisations.  For example, Peoplepoint, the Civil Service HR and Pensions Shared Service Centre, will deliver savings estimated at €12.5 million annually when fully operational.  A new single Payroll Shared Service Centre for the Civil Service will deliver an estimated €5.6 million in annual savings and the creation of a new Financial Management Shared Services Centre could deliver estimated annual savings of €14.6 million;

- The use of innovative models of service delivery, greater use of technology and more efficient management of the State's property portfolio will also deliver improved efficiency.

Some of the savings made will be re-invested into public services as a "reform dividend".  Public Service Reform will remain an important element of the Government's strategy for economic recovery, with our ambition for reform for the next three years set out in the new Public Service Reform Plan.

Questions Nos. 79 and 80 answered with Question No. 74.
Question No. 81 answered with Question No. 76.