26 Sep 2019, 13.46
The Pre-Budget Report of the Budgetary Oversight Committee has highlighted the need forclarity around Brexit support measures, along with measures to address and clarify spending overruns in Health, and other areas,
Emerging risks to the budgetary position of the economy, notably Brexit and the threat of a global economic slowdown, are highlighted as concerns in the report, and the overall message from the Committee urges caution.
In doing so, the Committee endorses the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform’s decision, in framing Budget 2020, to plan for a “no-deal Brexit scenario”.
The Committee has called for improvements in the quality of data and information provided to parliament for budgetary oversight purposes. The Committee also calls for the Minister to take steps to ensure that Budget 2020 protects the purchasing power of vulnerable households.
Committee Chair, Colm Brophy TD said:“The Committee’s Pre-Budget Report is the culmination of the Committee’s pre-budget scrutiny work that has been underway since earlier this year. In July, the Committee published an interim report and this report is an addendum to this.
“Across the two reports, the Committee has sought to make strong, considered recommendations that will both guide the Minister in his pre-Budget decision making, but also improve the parliamentary budget scrutiny process in Ireland.”
The Committee’s Interim Report previously assessed, and made recommendations, relating to other key areas of consideration ahead of Budget 2020. These included the overreliance on potentially volatile corporation tax receipts, the Exchequer impact of climate action measures and the possibility of the economy overheating in the short-to-medium term.
Other recommendations in the report are:
- That there needs to be a much stronger link between published Exchequer figures (i.e. the Fiscal Monitor) and the HSE’s financial reporting, to allow the Oireachtas to carry out proper monitoring and scrutiny of expenditure in Health
- That consideration is given by the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform to protecting the purchasing power of social welfare recipients from inflationary pressures in the economy.
- In its interim report, the Committee previously noted the view expressed by independent experts and stakeholder groups that above profile Corporation Tax receipts should not be used to meet current expenditure needs. The Committee recommends that government provides it with an analysis as to how the Corporation Tax receipts revenue can best be used in future.
- That Key Performance Indicators should be attached to the budget allocation of individual public services and that these KPI’s should also take account of the service demand and citizen requirement of each area of expenditure.
Deputy Brophy added: “Given the significant external economic risks on the one hand, and the potential for the economy to enter a period of overheating on the other, is foremost to the mind of Committee members, and our scrutiny to date this year has been reflective of that.”
“Given the prevailing uncertainty, budget scrutiny, and having an effective parliamentary scrutiny process, is more important than ever. The Committee’s work programme for this year was structured in order to maximise the relevant evidence it could hear, and I would like to thank all our witnesses and stakeholder groups for their participation.
Deputy Brophy concluded: “I also welcome the fact the Committee has considered a number of ways in which the budget scrutiny framework can be enhanced over the coming years, and that this report reflects some of these suggestions.”
Read the Pre-Budget Report and learn about the Committee’s recent reports, statements and membership here
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