I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
The Appropriation Bill 2019 is an essential element of financial housekeeping that must be concluded by the Dáil this year. There are two primary purposes of the Appropriation Bill. First, it provides authorisation in law for all of the expenditure that has been undertaken in 2019 on the basis of the Estimates, which were voted on by the Dáil during the year. Section 1 and schedule 1 set out the amounts to be appropriated for supply services. These relate to the amounts included in the Revised Estimates and Further Revised Estimates for 2019 voted by the Dáil earlier this year, and the Supplementary Estimates voted by the Dáil on 12 December. In aggregate, these Estimates amount to €54.6 billion. The comparable amount in the Appropriation Act 2018 was €50.9 billion. The amount to be appropriated this year, therefore, represents an increase of €3.7 billion or 7% on last year's net voted expenditure. In aggregate, taking into account expenditure of the Social Insurance Fund and the National Training Fund, total gross voted expenditure is forecast to total roughly €67.6 billion this year. This represents a significant investment to support the delivery of essential public services and to provide for the necessary infrastructure to support social and economic progress.
The second key purpose of the Appropriation Bill is to provide a legal basis for spending to continue into 2020 in the period before the Dáil votes on the 2020 Estimates. If the Bill were not enacted before the end of December there would be no authority to spend any Voted moneys in 2020 from the start of January until approval of the 2020 Estimates, since this authority for 2020, as contained in the Central Fund (Permanent Provisions) Act 1965, is based on the amounts provided for in the Appropriation Bill 2019 itself.
Under the rolling multi-annual capital envelopes introduced in budget 2004 Departments may carry over, from the current year to the following year, unspent capital up to a maximum of 10% of voted capital. This reflects the difficulty in planning for major capital projects and provides some flexibility for Departments.
The Appropriation Act determines definitively the capital amounts which may be carried over to the following year. The aggregate amount of proposed capital carryover from 2019 into 2020 is €215.4 million, which represents 2.9% of the total Exchequer capital programme of €7.3 billion for 2019. This figure is higher than last year's carryover figure of €93 million, which amounted to 1.5% of the 2019 capital allocation. This is in the context of an increase of €1.3 billion of capital expenditure included in the Revised Estimates Volume 2019.
The proposed amounts in unspent capital to be carried over by Vote are set out in Schedule 2 to the Bill. The 2020 Revised Estimates Volume will set out detailed financial and key performance information for Departments and Offices. In Part Il of the Estimates, for each Vote availing of the capital carryover facility, a table will be included listing the amounts to be deferred by sub-head. In line with last year's Appropriation Act, section 3 of the Bill includes a specific provision to allow for an advance, not exceeding €185 million, from the Central Fund to the Paymaster General's supply account, with this advance then being repaid to the Central Fund in January 2020.
The need for this provision arises as certain Exchequer liabilities and social welfare payments which form part of the supply services for 2020 are due for payment by electronic fund transfer on 1 or 2 January 2020. With the banking system closed on 1 January, funding will need to be in place in departmental bank accounts before the end of this year to meet those liabilities on a timely basis. In addition, An Post needs to be pre-funded before the end of 2019 in respect of certain payments due in the first week of January 2020 in order for it to transfer payments from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to its network of post offices throughout the country.
The annual Appropriation Bill is an essential element of housekeeping undertaken by the Dáil. The passing of the Bill will authorise in law all of the expenditure that has been undertaken in 2019 on the basis of the Estimates voted on by the Dáil during the year. The passage of the Bill will also ensure that payments funded from voted expenditure in 2019 such as the housing assistance payment, jobseeker's allowance, disability allowance, non-contributory State pension, nurses' pay, teachers' pay and all other pay and pensions funded from voted money can continue to be funded in 2020 in the period before the Dáil approves the 2020 Estimates.
I commend the Bill to the House.