Wednesday, 10 March 2004

Ceisteanna (107)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

174 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the total underspend in the BMW region to date under the NDP; the specific headings under which there has been an underspend; the figure involved in each case; the plans he has to address the underspend under each heading; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8050/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Finance)

The National Development Plan 2000-2006, NDP, includes an indicative resource profile for each operational programme for both the Border, midland and western, BMW, and southern and eastern regions for each year from 2000 to 2006. These profiles were set in 2000 when the operational programmes were prepared. Roughly one third of the resources profiled in the NDP were allocated to the BMW region and the balance to the south and east region. As the NDP is rolled out, the actual levels of resources allocated annually are determined by public expenditure ceilings set by Government, taking account of the wider budgetary considerations and the requirements of economic stability.

The following table shows the expenditure reported for the BMW region to the monitoring committee for each operational programme by its respective managing authority at end June 2003 — the latest period for which completed reports are available. The managing authorities are completing the end December 2003 expenditure position for the monitoring committees which will meet at the end of April.

In overall NDP terms, 80% of the resources originally profiled to be spent to the middle of 2003 in the BMW region have been expended. In the case of measures funded by Structural Funds, expenditure has been profiled for each year from 2000 to 2006, even though spending on these will continue to the end of 2008 in the BMW region. My expectation is that there will be sufficient expenditure in the BMW region to draw down its full allocation of Structural Funds.

As stated, the original profiled NDP expenditure was indicative. Over the period of a seven year plan, circumstances will impact on the actual realisation of these indicative provisions. I have previously acknowledged that expenditure in the BMW region is behind the indicative target set out in the plan. This reflects a range of issues and the fact that the infrastructure gridlock and bottle necks are most severe in the south and east region, especially in the greater Dublin area and that priority has had to be accorded to major projects to address this.

As regards individual operational programmes. expenditure in the BMW region under the economic and social infrastructure operational programme, while below the indicative profile, has nonetheless been substantial. I expect expenditure in this operational programme to show a marked increase in the BMW region over the remaining years of the NDP and that this will be reflected in the final out-turn figure for the plan post-2006.

Expenditure in the BMW region and the south and east region has been significantly behind expectation in the productive sector operational programme, reflecting some initial over estimation and difficult economic circumstances, which have reduced the level of private sector investment available to match Exchequer and EU grants. In addition, the ability of the BMW region to absorb funding on research and development type activities is hampered by the lack of institutional capacity and the relatively small size of enterprises in the region compared with the south and east region.

Progress for the employment and human resources development operational programme is ahead of the profiled expenditure for the period to the middle of 2003 and expectations are that this progress was maintained for the remainder of the 2003.

The BMW regional operational programme has reported improved levels of progress as measures which were previously delayed came on stream. There have been significant delays on actions to support broadband, tourism, agriculture and rural development due to factors such as obtaining state aids agreement and foot and mouth. On the other hand, significant levels of expenditure, above that previously profiled, have been incurred in the areas of non-national roads, micro-enterprise support and child care.

As the Deputy will appreciate, responsibility for the precise allocation of the global programme amounts agreed by Government is a matter for the relevant individual Minister taking account of overall Government policy, including the NDP. I expect that the individual Ministers will take account of the plan commitments in the BMW region in this regard.

Border Midland and West Region1

Operational Programme

Indicative Profile 2000 — June 20032

Reported Expenditure 2000-June 2003

Indicative Profile versus Reported Expenditure

€m

€m

%

Economic & Social Infrastructure

3,007.9

2,624.3

87

Employment & Human Resources

1,967.6

2,123.3

108

Productive Sector

1,095.3

358.4

33

Border Midland & West

1,759.0

1,188.6

68

PEACE

93.1

20.1

22

Technical Assistance

2.4

1.6

68

Total

7,925.2

6,316.3

80

1 The figures refer to all NDP sources of funding: Exchequer, EU, Other Public and Private.

2 The 2003 Expenditure Profile has been adjust to a mid-2003 value for each OP to reflect expenditure patterns.