30 Sep 2019, 16.42

The Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts, Sean Fleming TD, has said that the 2018 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), published today, highlights areas in the spending of public money and tax collection worthy of further examination.

Deputy Fleming said, “The ongoing delivery of new office accommodation by the OPW is worthy of further examination, and the OPW will be having an early visit before the Committee.

“We are concerned that a contract for a service to provide maintenance services and to carry out minor capital works on part of its Dublin portfolio in late 2014,  was anticipated  to result in a spending of around €3 million a year. However, over the years 2015 to 2018, actual expenditure was €10 million a year.

Deputy Fleming continued, “Since 2001, a key strategic objective of the Department of Health has been the strengthening of the primary care system in Ireland. This included the development of a national network of primary care centres (PCCs) in around 350 locations. 

“As of March 2019, just over one third of the target network has been delivered — 127 operational PCCs. At the rate of delivery over the last seven years (2013 to 2019), it could take at least a further 20 years to develop the full network of PCCs. We will also examine the role of public-private partnerships in delivery these primary care centre.”

In an era of a greater awareness of need for Climate Change strategies, the Committee of Public Accounts will also scrutinise greenhouse gas related financial transactions, related to the EU Emission Trading System (ETS) which amounted to €367.3 million for the period 2013 to 2018.

Deputy Fleming said: “We will also examine the receipts from carbon tax which totalled €431 million in 2018, and the use of these receipts.”

Early Learning and Childcare will also come under examination, in 2018, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs incurred expenditure totalling €410 million in relation to early learning and childcare programmes.

“The C&AG report identifies issues in relation to the Department’s oversight of Pobal and makes a number of recommendations which the committee will examine in detail.”

Deputy Fleming concluded “All the matters referred to by the C&AG in his annual report, especially the 21 chapters highlighted, will be examined in detail by the PAC. The scheduling of these meetings on the annual report will be discussed at our meeting on Thursday, October 3.”

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