Thursday, 11 February 2021

Questions (40)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

40. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport the carry-over of unspent capital from 2020 to 2021 approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for his Department; the departmental subheads to which this applies and the amount in each case; the reason the capital was not spent in 2020; the steps being taken to ensure there will not be an underspend in 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7731/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The carryover of unspent capital from 2020 into 2021 approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for my Department is €151,480m as per the table below.

Subhead

Description of Carryover Area

Amount Carried forward to 2021(€,000)

Subhead

Description of Carryover Area

Amount Carried forward to 2021(€,000)

A3

Regional Airports

€8,800

B3.5

Regional and Local Roads - Stimulus Works

€15,850

B.5

Vehicle and Driver Licensing Expenses

€2,580

B6

Carbon Reduction

€4,650

B7.2

Rural Transport Programme(RTP) Technical Assistance

€100

B8.1

Smarter Travel

€2,000

B8.2

Heavy Rail Safety and Development

€70,000

B8.3

Public Transport Infrastructure

€9,500

B8.5

Cycling and Walking

€15,000

B8.6

Greenways

€20,000

C3

Coast Guard

€3,000

Total

€151,480

Below is a brief description of the reason for Capital Carryover into 2021.

A3 – There were delays to several projects, particularly at Shannon and Knock, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

B3.5 - Following an applications procedure the 2020 “July Stimulus” funds were allocated to local authorities on the 31st August 2020, which only allowed three months to design and construct the works before the end of November.

B.5 - Some elements of the “technology refresh” programme were not completed in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Some planned National Vehicle Driver File business service enhancements were not undertaken as priorities were reframed to address pandemic related issues. This accordingly delayed the RTOL IT upgrade.

B6 – Due to the impact of COVID-19, there were delays to the asps Grant Scheme and LEVTI Scheme; on vehicle sales and motorway traffic; delays in modelling work undertaken; delays in the Purchase and delivery of Hydrogen buses; and delays in the establishment of the Alternatively Fuelled HDV Purchase Grant Scheme.

B7.2 - Progress was delayed on one of the Rural Transport / Local Link projects, managed by the National Transport Authority due to the impacts of COVID-19.

B8.1 – A delay in cross-border greenway projects.

B8.2 - Delays to various rail projects, including the delivery of 41 rail cars.

B8.3 – There were delivery delays on 2020 Bus Fleet which will now arrive in 2021.

B8.5 – The delay is due to the timing of “July Stimulus” funding. The reason for the underspend has been the volume of work to be completed in a very short time frame, and the need to undertake both tendering and construction in the limited period since funding was confirmed. Multiple local authorities were tendering for the same type of work concurrently, the availability of suitable contracting resources has also proved to be a constraint on certain projects.

B8.6 - There have been significant delays in projects drawing down expenditure due to COVID-19 impacts.

C3 – There were delays on the IRCG Building Programme and COVID-19 related delays on the procurement of Coast Guard boats.

As can be seen, the Covid-19 impact is the primary reason for delays experienced. Construction delays, manufacturing delays and supply chain delays have all been contributory factors. It is hoped that impacts in 2021 will be less significant that in 2020 as multiple structures are now in place nationally to offset the impacts of the pandemic and minimise disruption. However, the risk of disruption still exists.

An additional reason for delays relates to the timing of the 2020 “July Stimulus” package. My Department directed capital expenditure towards “shovel-ready” projects. However, even with “shovel ready” projects, there is still a period required to plan and design the projects that have been approved. The result is a small lag time between funding becoming available and being invested. As a result, it was necessary to carry some of the July Stimulus capital into 2021 to allow adequate time for project design and implementation.

Ongoing monitoring and early identification of emerging concerns will be instrumental in identifying any underspend and related root cause. In 2021, my Department will be reporting in detail on a quarterly basis to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on the progress of investment of the 2021 budget. This additional reporting is partly intended to identify emerging underspends. This quarterly reporting will take place alongside standard monthly reports. Reasons for any emerging underspends will be identified and addressed on a case-by-case basis.