Funding requirements for my Department for 2013 have not yet been finalised. We continue to review all cost categories with a view to achieving savings where possible. The Department of Finance has always been a strong adherent to the need for efficiency and has a track record of implementing change and reducing headcount. Some of the initiatives undertaken in this regard are highlighted below:
- The Department acts as a sizeable shared service centre for the Civil Service as outlined in the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure of 2011. The work of the Department in this area will already have allowed considerable cost and headcount efficiencies in client Departments or bodies. The Department remains supportive of further developments in this area and would expect further efficiencies in client locations as the shared service concept is implemented more widely.
- Headcount in the Paymaster General Banking section has fallen from 18 in 2004 to 4 today, arising from automation and payable order reduction.
- The headcount in the combined pensions and salaries sections of 38 today compared to 34 in 2004 represents only a 12% increase, whereas the number of salaries and pensions being paid has risen by almost 85% from 16,400 in 2004 to 30,200 today. Over 50% of this growth is due to the Department, payroll, as well as payment of pensions to VEC retirees, allowing headcount reductions in these client entities.
- The Department has also actively sought to augment its resources on a pro-bono basis through secondments from the private and public sectors. Currently, the Department benefits from the services of eight individuals in this way without cost to the Exchequer.
- The Department is phasing out the issuance of paper payslips to pensioners. This is expected to yield savings in the order of €200k p.a. The Department is also phasing out the use of payable orders which is expected to yield savings.
- The Department is targeting savings on the overtime bill in comparison with 2012 of some €100k p.a.
- The Department has reorganised accommodation requirements, resulting in the termination of one lease which will generate savings of the order of €0.45m per annum for the Exchequer. We are also reviewing procurement arrangements with a view to introducing efficiencies and securing reduced rates from suppliers on an ongoing basis.
However, we must also ensure that the Department of Finance is adequately resourced to address issues as they arise in the banking sector and to deliver on the considerable goals set out in my Department’s Statement of Strategy 2011-2014. In particular, bank and debt restructuring work is driven by developments in Europe and the primary objective of that work is to ensure that the State optimises its position. We are entering a critical phase of potential restructuring based on the European political commitments expressed during the summer, with potentially very significant benefits to the national finances and therefore the related costs need to be considered. Furthermore, the economic planning initiatives of my Department, the fundamental objective of which is to improve the growth potential of the economy so as to reduce the level of unemployment, also carry an element of additional cost. All of the above are currently under active consideration in the context of the appropriate allocation of the scarce resources of the State in the forthcoming budget.