Questions Nos. 1 to 11, inclusive, answered orally.

Capital Expenditure Programme Issues

Ceisteanna (12)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

12. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the steps he will take to ensure the Exchequer capital programme is spent in line with the timetable set out in the monthly profile; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29665/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As the Deputy will be aware, the actual roll-out of capital expenditure is a matter for line Departments, operating within the multi-annual budgetary allocations decided by Government and within delegated sanction arrangements issued by my Department.

How Departments spend their individual capital budgets throughout the year is dependent on what particular projects and programmes they will progress in that year. The profiling of monthly cash drawdown requirements from annual capital allocations is essentially an administrative exercise.

It is important to note that capital spending has general characteristics which influence the allocation drawdown pattern. Expenditure on capital projects typically occurs in large tranches at fixed milestones, unlike current expenditure which is generally continuous throughout the year. Obviously, this affects the phasing and profiling of capital expenditure. In addition, public financial rules require that payments are only made on foot of matured liabilities, so payments are made on foot of work that has already been satisfactorily completed.

An overall variance from the capital expenditure profile of between 10% and 12% is not unusual and within that variance there can be variations in spending patterns between Departments with some ahead of target. Departments have indicated that they do not expect any significant savings by year end and so expenditure is expected to return to profile at that stage.

All Departments are required to report to my Department on a monthly basis in relation to their actual expenditure (both capital and current) compared with their published profiles and to explain variances where they arise. My officials liaise with Departments to ensure that any issues are addressed promptly in order that there are no expenditure overruns and, in relation to capital expenditure, that projects and programmes are progressed in a timely manner. I am happy that the arrangements for monitoring capital expenditure which are in place are effective and robust.

Flood Prevention Measures

Ceisteanna (13, 51)

Derek Keating

Ceist:

13. Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding measures to prevent flooding in Lucan Village and surrounding area and Clondalkin Village and surrounding area, Dublin; if he will provide in tabular form the number of floods that have taken place in these areas in the past ten years; his view on home insurance loading since rehabilitation has taken place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29493/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Derek Keating

Ceist:

51. Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on home insurance loading since rehabilitation has taken place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29494/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 13 and 51 together.

Following flooding of the Lucan area in 2000, I am advised by South Dublin Co. Co. that they carried out emergency works including the construction of a berm at Vesey Park to prevent the river bursting its banks onto the Adamstown Road. Two engineering reports in 2001 commissioned by them on the 2000 flood event recommended the upgrading of the river channel and bridges on the Griffeen River to provide conveyance capacity for the 100-year flood event. These works were completed in 2004 at a cost of €5m.

The Council, in association with Chartridge Ltd, the developers of the Adamstown SDZ lands, also completed a scheme in August 2009 to alleviate flooding in the Tubber Lane area. This consisted of works in the Tubbermaclugg Stream, the provision of an attenuation pond and upgrading of culverts and pipework. The scheme which is designed to protect against the 100 year flood event cost €7.7m and the costs were shared by the Council and Chartridge Ltd.

The significant works that have been carried out have been successful in that no house has been flooded by river water in Lucan since 2000.

The area from Lucan through to Chapelizod is an Area for Further Assessment (AFA) in the Eastern Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Study which is being carried out by RPS Consultants. The rivers Liffey and Griffeen are High Priority Watercourses through the AFA. Draft flood mapping for the Eastern CFRAM Study will be made available in late 2013, with the Flood Risk Management Plan being available in late 2015.

The River Camac is a High Priority Watercourse in the Eastern CFRAM Study through Clondalkin. Following the October 2011 flood event, the OPW, following discussions with South Dublin County Council and Dublin City Council, requested RPS consultants to prioritise the assessment under the CFRAM of the Camac and Poddle catchments. This work has been progressed to the point where draft flood mapping and any identified viable options are being made available for public consultation in the week beginning on 24 June 2013. Advertisements have been placed in local papers, and I would strongly urge members of the public to attend these events and give their views.

In relation to flooding events in the past 10 years, I would suggest that the information is publicly available on the OPW website www.floodmaps.ie. The Lucan and Clondalkin areas were affected by flooding arising from the intense rainfall event that occurred in the Dublin and Eastern region on 24 October 2011. This was a pluvial rather than a river based event and it affected primarily industrial property and roads in the areas. Apart from the Oct 2011 event, the only other flood event recorded on the floodmaps.ie website was one in October 2004 affecting Luttrellstown Golf Club.

I am aware of the problems some homeowners in Lucan and Clondalkin have been experiencing in relation to flood insurance cover. This is occurring in other areas of the country also. I have made it clear on many occasions that where the State, through the OPW or the local authorities, has completed flood defence works in an area, then those works should be taken into account by the insurance companies when assessing properties in those areas for flood insurance cover. For this reason I initiated discussions with the insurance industry with a view to establishing a system for providing information to the insurance companies on all completed OPW flood defence schemes. A Working Group comprising of officials of the OPW, Insure Ireland (formerly the Irish Insurance Federation) and representatives of the main household insurance companies has been engaged in discussions over the last six months to reach agreement on a basis for providing this information. The Working Group is very near completion of its work. I expect that an agreement with the insurance industry in this regard will be a clear positive step to address the problems which some householders are experiencing. The focus of the Working Group initially has been on completed OPW flood defence schemes but it will be addressing completed local authority works in the near future. It is important to bear in mind that while the insurance companies may agree to take the information on completed flood defence schemes into account, ultimately, it is a commercial decision on the part of the companies as to whether they offer flood cover and at what price.

I would point out also that the CFRAM process will produce a significant amount of information in relation to flood risk which will be available to the insurance industry also and will enable the industry to take decisions on the provision of cover based on the fullest possible assessment of that risk.

Those having difficulty with flood insurance cover can direct queries and complaints in this regard through Insurance Ireland's free Insurance Information Service.

Job Creation Issues

Ceisteanna (14)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

14. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of jobs that have been created from the July 2012 stimulus plan to date in 2013; and the number of jobs that will be created from the plan by the end of 2013 and 2014. [29658/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

On the 17th of July 2012, the Government announced its plans for an additional €2.25 billion investment in public infrastructure projects in Ireland. The most important contribution capital investment can now make is in providing the capacity for the economy to grow, which will in turn create employment.

As the Deputy will recall, the stimulus package included €1.4 billion to fund the proposed new Public Private Partnerships (PPP) programme and the delivery of this was the initial focus for my Department. This €1.4 billion investment is additional to the direct investment by the exchequer in infrastructure which will be some €3.4 billion in 2013.

Job creation is a critical priority for Government. Investment in the projects included in the Stimulus package is expected to generate significant numbers of jobs spread out across the country. Analysis of each sector indicates that the investment in the PPP Pipeline should generate around 13,000 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs. It will also create much needed social and economic infrastructure and aid economic recovery. In recent weeks, as a follow on to last year’s package, I announced an additional Exchequer investment of €150m to fund school building projects, local and regional road maintenance and retrofitting of Local Authority housing. These projects involve mostly smaller scale capital works which are known to be labour intensive. It is envisaged that this additional Exchequer investment can support in the region of 3,000 jobs over the period of the roll-out.

NDFA issued tenders for the schools bundles in May. The tender for the Primary Care Centres Bundle is expected to be issued in August followed by the Grangegorman tender in September. The NRA published the contract notice for the N25 New Ross Bypass in March. The return date for pre-qualification submissions was 19th June and the NRA has reported that five submissions were received. The NRA will now proceed with the evaluation of the pre-qualification submissions received. It is planned to announce the shortlisted consortia to proceed to the tender stage in July/August. The next road tender will issue in the coming months.

As part of the on-going monitoring of employment on current PPPs, the latest figures from the Schools Bundle 3 indicate 600 full time equivalent jobs engaged for the period to end May. We will also be monitoring the level of employment being created during the construction of the N11/Newlands Cross PPP which commenced in the past few weeks.

The preparatory work for the PPP projects is well underway in the various Departments and Agencies. At this early stage in the process, most of the employment impact has been in the technical and advisory areas.

The NDFA estimated that approximately 155 jobs have been created to date by technical, legal, and insurance advisors and design teams spread across all projects. Some projects such as the new DIT Grangegorman project have already seen significant employment impact where a team of 40 architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and other specialists are already in place. Similarly in relation to the schools and primary care centres, a number of technical advisors and design teams are in place.

Further appointments are pending and employment benefits will be evident as the projects progress through the tendering phase and construction gets underway. The indicative timetable for the projects suggests construction is expected to commence on the first roads project by the end of 2013 and on the accommodation projects by Q4 2014.

My Department together with the NDFA and the Sponsoring Authorities are also looking at how to maximise job creation as part of each tender competition that is in line with procurement regulations. With the NDFA, we are also examining ways to encourage SME participation by facilitating access to the programme and the NDFA is working with Enterprise Ireland to organise awareness raising events for SMEs, one of which was held last week.

The projects identified for delivery through the additional €150m Exchequer funding will begin to be rolled out over the summer. While this additional funding was only recently announced, I expect that it will have an immediate impact as most of the preparation work for the relevant projects is already well advanced.

Public Sector Staff Redundancies

Ceisteanna (15)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

15. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the progress made to date in implementing the targeted voluntary redundancy scheme within the public service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29676/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As the Deputy is aware this Government is committed to developing a leaner, more efficient Public Service. To this end, we agreed on 2 October 2012 to accelerate the reduction in Public Service numbers in order to achieve the previous end 2015 target of 282,500 by end 2014 instead. Greater efficiencies in the way the Public Service is going about its business means that some posts have been identified by Departments as surplus. Where surplus staff cannot be redeployed, Voluntary Redundancy can be used. There is not a general voluntary redundancy scheme in the Public Service; it is progressing on a targeted basis where it makes sense and can be shown to offer value for money in the long run.

Initially Voluntary Redundancy is being rolled out in three areas – the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and specific parts of the Health and Education Sectors. These Departments estimated at the time the matter was being considered that there would be scope to effect about 2,000 exits from these areas over time, mainly from back office and support areas and management and administrative grades.

Last month the Department of Health issued a circular to the HSE authorising the introduction of a Targeted Voluntary Redundancy Scheme funded by the HSE from within existing resources.

With regard to the Education Sector, some very limited targeted voluntary redundancies have taken place and further areas are under consideration.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is facilitating the redeployment of staff to other Departments and agencies where there is a current demand for additional resources and once this programme of redeployments is completed it will finalise the business case for its voluntary redundancy scheme, which will specify posts and locations to be targeted.

Voluntary Redundancy may be used as a lever for facilitating organisational change in those areas of the Public Service where surplus staff cannot be reassigned within their Department/Sector. Each Department must submit a detailed business case to my Department prior to sanction being considered.

Voluntary redundancy will contribute to the overall reduction in public service numbers which are collated on a quarterly basis by my Department.

The intention is that voluntary redundancy is only to be used where there is no other realistic option, such as redeploying or retraining existing staff. It was always intended to be relatively small scale and targeted. It is a response to business needs rather than an open general scheme. One would expect that there will be increased take up as we move along and sectoral managers progress reform and restructuring initiatives.

What sectors/areas/Departments/agencies will be targeted for redundancies?

It is open for any Department / Sector of the Public Service to put forward proposals, backed by a sound business case, to introduce VR in their particular areas. In order to proceed Departments have to submit a detailed business case to my Department – including the purpose, the reform and workforce planning context, the cost and savings – before sanction to proceed is given. In considering the business case, the cost to the Exchequer is assessed and factored into affordability decisions on a case-by-case basis.

How much will the redundancies cost and where will the funds come from?

Analysis by my Department estimates that for every 1,000 employees who opt to participate in a voluntary redundancy programme there will be a gross cost of approximately €109 million. The gross payroll savings for 1,000 employees will amount to €57 million every year. Therefore the initial cost of 1,000 employees leaving would be recouped in two years. Further savings will be realised in the future when these employees reach retirement age, because of their reduced pension entitlements.

Final decisions on numbers reductions to be achieved in each sector will take account of the surpluses identified by Ministers in respect of their portfolios and of expected rates of retirements in those sectors, Departments and Offices over the next few years. In addition the grades and service profiles of staff will need to be ascertained. This will determine the eventual costs. It is proposed that redundancy costs of this scheme will be borne, in the first instance, by the relevant Departments within existing resources.

What are the terms of the Redundancy scheme?

The terms of VR will be in accordance with the Collective Agreement with the Public Service Committee of ICTU on Redundancy Payments to Public Servants. The redundancy payment consists of an ex gratia payment of 3 weeks’ pay per year of service plus statutory redundancy under the Redundancy Payments Acts, subject to an overall limit of:

(i) 2 years’ pay; or, if less

(ii) one-half of the salary payable to preserved pension age

Voluntary redundancy is allowed for under the terms of the Public Service Agreement (Croke Park).

What is the target number of redundancies under the scheme announced in October 2012?

It is estimated that the currently proposed schemes (Health, Agriculture and Education sectors) will result in some 2,000 exits from these areas. There is no pre-defined target. Each case will be assessed on merit as to whether it is affordable and meets VFM criteria.

When did the scheme commence and when will the first staff depart?

Voluntary Redundancy was agreed by Government as a means of managing those situations where staff cannot be redeployed. Rather than being a general scheme of voluntary redundancy across the Public Service, VR is being introduced on a rolling basis where Departments and Agencies identify surplus staff, put forward a business case and receive sanction from my Department to use VR as a tool in implementing restructuring and reform.

Will staff be forced to take this Redundancy Scheme? Is this not compulsory redundancy?

This scheme is a voluntary redundancy scheme. The Department/employer may invite individuals who are surplus and work in targeted areas / positions to apply for voluntary redundancy. It is entirely a voluntary decision for the individual as to whether or not to apply or accept such an offer.

Will frontline services be protected/how will managers ensure the ongoing business needs of Departments/agencies are met?

There will be no automatic right to redundancy and all applications will be subject to ongoing business needs. Skills needs and the priorities of Departments will be central considerations when assessing applications. All areas of the Public Service will be required to implement the redeployment arrangements set out in the Public Service Agreement thereby ensuring frontline and critical services are maintained to the highest standards.

Will any of the posts vacated by redundancy be filled by new staff coming in?

In line with the Government’s policy of creating a leaner more efficient Public Service and to facilitate structural reform, staff departing under the voluntary scheme will not be replaced. Service levels will be maintained via reorganisation and implementation of the redeployment arrangements set out in the Public Service Agreement. However in order to take account of the ongoing reform programme in the public service, it will always be necessary to have an ongoing level of recruitment into different parts of the public service.

Public Service Contracts

Ceisteanna (16)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

16. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the criteria for the awarding of printing contracts by the State can be modified in line with EU procurement requirements to ensure that Irish based printers have improved opportunities to successfully tender; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29673/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Under EU law, public contracts above a certain value must be advertised EU-wide and awarded to the most competitive tender in an open and objective process. The aim is to promote an open, competitive and non-discriminatory public procurement regime that delivers value for money. It would be a breach of the rules for a public body to favour, or discriminate against, particular candidates on grounds of location or nationality and there are legal remedies that may be used against any public body infringing these rules.

Reform of public procurement is one of the major projects of key strategic importance in the Government’s Public Service Reform Plan, which was published in November 2011. Procurement of supplies and services accounts for around €9 billion of current spending by the State per annum. This represents a very significant portion of overall spending and it is, therefore, essential that the Public Service achieves maximum value for money and operational efficiency in its approach to public procurement.

The National Procurement Service (NPS) has put in place a number of national arrangements designed to secure better value for money from leveraging the public service’s buying power in relation to a range of goods and services that are commonly purchased across the public service. In establishing these arrangements the NPS is particularly mindful of the provisions of Dept of Finance Circular 10/10 that seeks to remove any potential barriers to the participation of SMEs in the public service procurement process. These provisions include the need for proportionality, reduced administration (paperwork), the open advertising of all contracts over the value of €25,000 etc. In the case of printing the National Procurement Service has also established a panel of printers from which public bodies can easily access printing services. It is also the policy of the NPS to only aggregate contracts where it is apparent that such a strategy could yield optimum results. In a situation where it is deemed more appropriate to bring smaller contracts individually to the market, without recourse to European competition, then this is the strategy pursued. This later approach can offer better opportunities for local suppliers to compete.

It is noteworthy that all current NPS contracts for printing services are with Irish-based printers.

In order to encourage greater SME participation the NPS, over the past three years, has conducted a targeted programme of education for suppliers who wish to learn more about doing business with the Irish Public Service. This programme consists of seminars, workshops and large scale 'meet the buyer' events hosted nationwide. To date the NPS has facilitated workshops and presented at seminars to over 4,500 SMEs nationwide. Parallel with these events the NPS also works closely with business representative bodies such as ISME and IBEC to provide briefings for their members on issues directly related to procurement.

State Properties

Ceisteanna (17)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

17. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will list the ten most valuable State properties liable for the local property tax in respect of which the State is not considering sale of the property; the valuation in each case and the amount of local property tax payable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29681/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

While the Office of Public Works has completed the returns to the Revenue Commissioners in relation to the local property tax, the Commissioners are seeking legal advice on certain matters. Therefore, I am not in a position to provide the information requested at present.

Croke Park Agreement Implementation

Ceisteanna (18)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

18. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to reform the process used by the Croke Park implementation body to take account of the more complex nature of the Haddington Road Agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29677/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Implementation Body was set up under the terms of the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 (Croke Park Agreement) to oversee and drive implementation of that Agreement across the public service.

Public service trade unions are currently considering the various proposals put forward under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2013-2016 (Haddington Road Agreement) and those that need to ballot will do so over the coming weeks ahead of the implementation date of 1 July. The implementation arrangements for the Haddington Road Agreement will be considered by the parties to the Agreement over the coming weeks.

State Properties

Ceisteanna (19)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

19. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he is satisfied with the inspection and investigation procedures in place to prevent unauthorised work taking place on State properties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29674/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Although the Deputy does not specify Heritage properties in particular, I understand that this is the thrust of the Question and will therefore address the matter in that context. Within my remit at the Office of Public Works, I am responsible for National Monuments in State care and I will confine my remarks to this portfolio in particular.

The National Monuments Service of the Office of Public Works is responsible for approximately 780 National Monument sites in State care. The majority of these sites are State owned and therefore fall completely under the protections of the National Monuments Acts. However a number are privately owned and the OPW has Guardianship arrangements in place in respect of these sites so that they can be afforded a similar level of protection.

On the ground, these properties are safeguarded by a network of 6 National Monuments Depots located around the country in Meath, Kilkenny, Cork, Kerry, Galway and Leitrim, and staff at these locations, together with a number of others in various sub-depots, provide the immediate response in terms of affording protection to National Monument sites. This cohort is responsible therefore for protecting National Monuments, performing various maintenance tasks and mounting larger conservation projects when appropriate. A key role is also occupied by the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, which has responsibility for overarching matters of policy relating to Heritage and provides a key professional Archaeological input into the protection regime at sites. The Department is often therefore joined with the OPW in the first line of defence for Heritage sites under threat. Additionally, the Minister for AHG and his Department are responsible for providing consent to allow works to be carried out at or in the vicinity of National Monuments, either by the OPW themselves or by others and this is a key function in providing clarity about who may work legally at a National Monument.

The number of sites in State care is, clearly, quite significant and the challenge of ensuring that all sites are protected from adverse activity is a considerable one, particularly given that most are unattended by staff for a majority of the time. Physically, the list is comprised of a huge range of types of structures including historic houses, ancient castles, Abbeys, Churches, megalithic burial and settlement sites, protected landscapes, battle sites, high crosses and other carved stones and a wide range of field monuments dotted around the country. Geographically, the various sites and monuments are located in widely dispersed areas which are, in some cases easy to access and in others, physically remote. OPW National Monuments staff regularly inspect sites to make sure they are not under threat and assess the need for small works from time to time. In fact, the Deputy may recall the recent case where a Church font went missing from a National Monument site at Rathmore in Co. Meath. The taking of this object was first noted in fact as a result of a routine OPW staff inspection. Happily, that incident concluded satisfactorily and the item was successfully recovered, but it is noteworthy I think that the initial prompt action of OPW staff resulted in a very fast response by the Department of AHG and other relevant agencies, in cooperation with An Garda Síochána. It is also interesting to note that the site in question is under Guardianship rather than ownership and that this did not affect the rigour of the protection or the speed of the response.

Although the Rathmore incident ended happily, it does, I think, serve to illustrate the risks to our important heritage sites from unauthorised activity. There is clearly a dilemma involved in publicising the wonderful heritage that we have and at the same time allowing access to individuals who, through either ill intent or a lack of knowledge, may cause damage. Given the number and geographic spread of sites, the dangers involved cannot all be monitored all of the time and the OPW National Monuments Service depend on local people in all parts of the country to help keep a watch on sites and bring to the OPW's or the Department's attention any problem issues. Where unauthorised activity occurs, the measures contained in the various National Monuments Acts will apply. The sanctions set out in the Acts are significant and, with the input of the Department of AHG, provide a serious deterrent and a strong level of legal protection to sites under risk. Notwithstanding this, my colleague the Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht has a new National Monuments Amendment Act in preparation which he will bring to the House in due course to further update legislation in this area.

Having regard to the importance of our National Heritage to both our cultural identity and as a part of the rich fabric of our nation, it is clear that its protection must be of continuing importance. There are, clearly, challenges in terms of the size of the portfolio and the amount of resources available to the Office of Public Works; however, I am generally happy that the OPW, in concert with colleagues in the Department of AHG and with the input and cooperation of interested local people and groups in all parts of the country, can continue to provide an effective response to this issue.

Capital Expenditure Programme Issues

Ceisteanna (20, 32)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

20. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when the announced €150 million of additional Exchequer capital expenditure will be spent; the amount that will be spent in 2013 and 2014; the way he will ensure that it is not allocated to projects properly regarding as current expenditure; the number of jobs it will support; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29648/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

32. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of jobs he anticipates that will be created as a result of the recently announced €150 million allocation in Exchequer capital funding for 2013 to 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29685/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 20 and 32 together.

The projects identified for delivery through the additional €150m Exchequer funding will begin to be rolled out over the summer. Departments will initially meet costs associated with these projects from within their existing budgets on the basis that they will be reimbursed for moneys spent in 2013 once proceeds from State asset sales and from the National Lottery Licence are realised towards the end of the year. While it is difficult to predict the exact quantum of funding which will be spent in 2013, it is expected to be in the region of €70m with the remainder being spent in 2014 and a small element in 2015.

The funding has already been allocated to specific projects and these were identified in the announcement made earlier this month. More details regarding specific projects are available from the relevant Departments. All of the projects to be funded through this package are capital projects.

The additional Exchequer funding has been targeted towards smaller scale capital works mainly aimed at maintaining or improving existing assets. As well as maintaining our assets, the works proposed are known to be labour intensive, will help create jobs and will be spread throughout local communities. Minor works tend to be more labour intensive than major new build projects with figures rising in some instances to 17-19 jobs created per €1m expenditure. It is expected that this additional Exchequer funding can support in the region of 3,000 jobs over the period of the roll-out. This is on top of the estimated 13,000 jobs which will be supported through the new PPP Programme which I announced last July.

National Lottery Funding Disbursement

Ceisteanna (22, 53)

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

22. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform based on the 2012 National Lottery's gross sales figure, if the monetary amount provided to good causes under the new draft lottery licence will be greater or less than the amount paid in 2012 under the current licence arrangements. [29555/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

53. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the monetary amount that would be provided to good causes under the new National Lottery draft licence contractual obligations based on the 2012 National Lottery sales figures. [29554/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 22 and 53 together.

Under the next National Lottery licence, annual contributions for Good Causes will be set at 65% of Gross Gaming Revenues. Gross Gaming Revenues are defined as the level of sales less the amount deducted for prizes. The current licence does not have a specific formula in place for Good Causes - the level of contribution is the amount which remains when prizes and costs are deducted from the value of total sales.

An Post National Lottery Company recently published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2012. Total sales recorded by the Company in 2012 amounted to approximately 735m euro while the funds allocated to prizes amounted to 406m euro. Gross Gaming Revenues would therefore be equal to approximately 329m euro and 65% of that figure is around 214m euro. The actual contribution to Good Causes in 2012 was 225m euro.

However, I must stress that using this type of comparison as a guide to anticipating future revenues for Good Causes would be somewhat misleading. For example, under existing arrangements National Lottery sales have fallen and there is less money available for Good Causes. Under the next licence, a competition for which is currently taking place, the National Lottery operator will be better placed to reverse this trend and boost the level of sales of National Lottery tickets. This increase will be facilitated by the terms of both the next licence and the National Lottery Act 2013 which will offer the holder of the next licence greater flexibility for the growth and development of lottery games and distribution channels, including interactive channels. However, it is important to emphasise that this will be achieved in a responsible manner which protects the interests of National Lottery players and ensures that the long term sustainability of the National Lottery is safeguarded.

I am very confident that under the new arrangements, the level of annual returns for good causes, which include sport, culture, health of the community and the natural environment, will grow significantly from the 2012 amount of 225 million euro. More worthwhile projects being funded in more places across the country will be the outcome.

I should also point out that the successful bidder for the next licence will make an upfront payment to the State in return for a 20 year licence to operate the National Lottery. Part of this upfront payment will be used to fund the construction of the new National Children’s Hospital. In addition, some moneys which will accrue from the payment in respect of the National Lottery licence are being allocated to help fund Exchequer capital projects in 2013 and 2014.

Public Procurement Contracts Tenders

Ceisteanna (23)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

23. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the measures the National Procurement Service has undertaken or plans to undertake to remove the barriers to engagement encountered by small local enterprises in seeking to bid for local authority and other State contracts; his views on whether excessive time in the procurement process represents one of the major barriers; if he will indicate the level of reduced duplication of tendering that has taken place since the implementation of Department Circular 06/12; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29626/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

In relation to improving access for small and medium sized enterprises my Department has issued guidelines (Circular 10/10) that require public bodies to promote participation of such enterprises in the award of public contracts. These guidelines set out positive measures that contracting authorities are to take to promote the involvement of smaller enterprises in a manner that is consistent with the principles and rules of the existing public procurement regulatory regime. The guidance also highlights practices that are to be avoided because they can unjustifiably hinder small businesses in competing for public contracts. The key provisions of the guidance include:

- supplies and general services contracts with an estimated value of €25,000 or more to be advertised on the www.etenders.gov.ie website;

- less use of “restrictive” tendering procedures and greater use of “open” tendering;

- ensuring that the levels set by contracting authorities for suitability criteria are justified and proportionate to the needs of the contract;

- sub-dividing larger requirements into lots where this is practical.

In relation to the duration of a tender process and its impact on SME participation, due to a wide and varied nature of supplies and services secured throughout the public service there is no maximum timeframe for tender processes. This is because the duration set by the Contracting Authority would be proportionate to the needs and complexity of the contract it relates to. However, I would dispute the Deputy’s assertion that a longer procurement process is a barrier for SMEs. The longer timeframe is likely to give SMEs better access to public procurement opportunities by affording them the necessary time to form alliances and networks to ensure they can tender on a competitive basis for this work.

The National Procurement Service (NPS), which will be transferring into the new Office of Government Procurement (OGP), is focused on developing centralised arrangements for the procurement of goods and services used commonly across the public service nationwide. The benefits arising from these central arrangements include: cash savings; administrative savings from reduced duplication of tendering; greater purchasing expertise; improved consistency; and enhanced service levels. Public bodies have always been allowed to tender for similar goods or services that are available through NPS contracts if they felt they could achieve better value.

The NPS has now put over fifty frameworks in place and these are available to hundreds of public bodies. By availing of such centralised contracts substantial administrative savings for the exchequer can be achieved.

Coillte Teoranta Harvesting Rights Sale

Ceisteanna (24)

Joe Higgins

Ceist:

24. Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he or his Department have examined the report on the sale of Coillte's harvesting rights; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29691/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

On foot of the Government’s decision last June that a concession for the harvesting rights to Coillte forests be considered for sale, a number of detailed financial, technical and other specialist reports were prepared for Coillte by external specialist consultancy bodies, in full consultation with the Board of Coillte and its executive management. The Inter-Departmental Steering Group established to oversee the Coillte transaction process, which consists of representatives of NewERA, my department and the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine, has considered these reports and appraised myself and the Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine of the work completed to-date.

The outcome of this work was also considered by the Government at its meeting on June 19th, and I can now inform the House that the Government has agreed with the joint recommendation of myself and the Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine that now is not the appropriate time to proceed with the sale of harvesting rights in Coillte, but instead the focus needs to be on the restructuring of Coillte as a company, to address the issues that were identified in the reviews undertaken. To that end, I wish to further inform the House that:

- Coillte is to undergo a fundamental restructuring, to be overseen by NewERA and the relevant stakeholder Departments, which will include operational streamlining, financial de-leveraging and a critical examination of the disposal options for its non-core activities such as telecoms and wind.

- A robust analysis will also be carried out to evaluate how to give effect to a beneficial merger of Coillte with Bord na Mona to create a streamlined and refocused commercial state company operating in the bio-energy and forestry sectors, as committed to in the Programme for Government.

- A priority in this regard will be the annual delivery of a material financial dividend to the State by Coillte.

- And finally, we intend to fill the significant number of vacancies that will arise on the Coillte board this year by persons with relevant experience and commercial expertise to drive the restructuring process and the merger with Bord na Mona if this is approved by Government.

Public Service Contracts

Ceisteanna (25)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

25. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the steps being taken to assist small businesses in obtaining public contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29491/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

In relation to improving access for small and medium sized enterprises my Department has issued guidelines (Circular 10/10) that require public bodies to promote participation of such enterprises in the award of public contracts. These guidelines set out positive measures that contracting authorities are to take to promote the involvement of smaller enterprises in a manner that is consistent with the principles and rules of the existing public procurement regulatory regime. The guidance also highlights practices that are to be avoided because they can unjustifiably hinder small businesses in competing for public contracts. The key provisions of the guidance include:

- supplies and general services contracts with an estimated value of €25,000 or more to be advertised on the www.etenders.gov.ie website;

- less use of “restrictive” tendering procedures and greater use of “open” tendering;

- ensuring that the levels set by contracting authorities for suitability criteria are justified and proportionate to the needs of the contract;

- sub-dividing larger requirements into lots where this is practical.

In order to promote and improve such practices the National Procurement Service (NPS), which will be transferring into the new Office of Government Procurement (OGP), established its 'Working Group to assist Small and Medium Enterprises' in February 2012 to facilitate open discussion on the issue of public service procurement. The Working Group consists of representatives from the NPS, the Health Service Executive, the Irish Business and Employers Federation, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, Chambers Ireland, and the Small Firms Association. The Group has met on a number of occasions and has raised many issues relating to procurement and particularly how these issues impact on SMEs. Resulting from these discussions the NPS has issued two circulars to all buyers in, and suppliers to, the public service with the aim of improving practice in the procurement arena.

In order to encourage greater SME participation the NPS, over the past three years, has conducted a targeted programme of education for suppliers who wish to learn more about doing business with the Irish Public Service. This programme consists of seminars, workshops and large scale 'meet the buyer' events hosted nationwide. To date the NPS has facilitated workshops and presented at seminars to over 4,500 SMEs nationwide. Parallel with these events the NPS also works closely with business representative bodies such as ISME and IBEC to provide briefings for their members.

Circular 10/10 has been in place for just over two years. It is clear that there is a need to ensure greater consistency in relation to the implementation of this circular. In this regard, I am arranging for my Department to remind public bodies about this aspect of the public procurement guidance and the importance of contracting authorities ensuring they implement it appropriately.

Public Private Partnerships Data

Ceisteanna (26)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

26. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the reason he is increasing the risk to the State from public private partnership projects by altering the terms of performance bonds for developers; the estimated cost to the taxpayer of this provision in 2013 and 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29657/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Performance bonds are not sought by the State under Public Private Partnership (PPP) contracts. However those providing finance to the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) seek security which may include performance bonds as well as other financial securities.

Previous PPP contracts which used the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) standard template Project Agreement included the provision of an “Authority Bond”. This bond is called upon in the event that the project is terminated during construction as a result of a default by the SPV and is intended to cover the costs to the Authority of re-tendering the project. The bond is required to be kept in place until a proportion of the works (usually about 25% of the value) is completed. The bond is purchased by the SPV and appears as a cost to the Authority in the tender price.

The requirement for the Authority Bond has been removed from the recently advertised Schools PPP Programme after a value-for-money assessment by the NDFA. The NDFA is satisfied that sufficient remedy remains available under the contract to protect the State’s interests in the event that the contract is terminated owing to a SPV default. Removal of the requirement for the bond is expected to reduce tender prices.

There are no other bonding requirements from the State within the PPP contract. Instead, the SPV is at risk of financial deductions from the stage payments due under the PPP contract for any poor performance during the service period. There is no proposal to alter these terms in the contract as they form an essential part of the risk-transfer mechanism.

Performance bonds are financial securities taken out by construction clients (public or private sector) to insure the contract performance against a default or breach by the contractor. They are provided by specialist insurance companies (sureties). In the case of a default or a breach of contract, the surety undertakes to cover any additional costs up to the value of the bond incurred by the construction client in completing the project. The premiums for the bonds are paid for by the client whereas security may be required by the surety from the contractor in addition to any premium paid. The current cost of the premium can vary from 1.5% – 3.5% of the contract sum.

On foot of concerns expressed by many in the industry over the difficulty in obtaining performance bonds on public works contracts, officials from my Department met with representatives of the construction industry, sureties and representatives of public sector contracting authorities in January of this year.

During that engagement it became apparent that sureties were unwilling to continue to provide bonds at the levels traditionally sought by contracting authorities because of the increased level of insolvencies in the construction sector. This was contributing to substantial delays and uncertainty in awarding contracts because the sureties were unable to meet the requirements set out in the tender documents which were based upon guidance set out in the Capital Works Management Framework published by my Department.

In response to this uncertainty and having considered the options available, Circular 07/13 was issued on 1 May 2013 reducing the level of performance bonds sought on public works contracts to 12.5% for contract sums up to €10 million and 10% thereafter. Previously levels of 25% on projects up to €2.5 million were sought dropping down to 12.5% and 10% on projects with a value in excess of €12.7 million.

Whilst it is expected that there will be a reduction in the cost of premiums to the State it is acknowledged that this may expose the State to greater losses in the event of insolvency due to the reduced level of bond provided. To address this concern the Government Contracts Committee for Construction will shortly publish enhanced guidelines for the financial appraisal of works contractors to ensure that those who are awarded public works contracts have sufficient financial capacity to see a project through to completion. Guidance will also follow later in the year on the appointment of replacement contractors to provide greater certainty to contracting authorities when insolvency occurs on a public works contract.

Freedom of Information Remit

Ceisteanna (27)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

27. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to remove secrecy provisions in legislation which prevents the release of information under the Freedom of Information Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29678/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As the Deputy is aware, non-disclosure provisions in other Acts override provisions in the Freedom of Information Act 1997, unless such provisions are listed in Schedule 3 of the FOI Act in which case they are subordinate to FOI.

Under Section 32 of the FOI Act 1997, the Oireachtas Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Committee has the power to review the operations of these provisions from time to time with a view to recommending whether they should be amended or repealed. If it is recommended that they should continue in force, the Committee has the power to recommend whether they should override FOI or whether they should be included in Schedule 3. It is understood that this review is currently underway within the Committee.

Pending the outcome of the review and consideration of the Committee’s recommendations, I am not proposing to list any further non-disclosure provisions in Schedule 3 of the FOI Act.

Public Sector Staff Data

Ceisteanna (28)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

28. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the changes in public sector staffing numbers since the introduction of the public sector recruitment embargo; and if he has any plans to alter the scheme. [29682/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

There is no general embargo on recruitment in the public service but there are restrictions so that overall the size of the public service continues to reduce.

The Government has set out an ambitious public service reform plan that aims to transform the quality and cost effectiveness of public services in Ireland. As part of that plan we are undertaking a steady and managed reduction in public service numbers and there are sectoral targets to meet this. Within these targets management have discretion on exactly how staff resources are allocated. This approach has delivered a reduction of just over 29,500 since its introduction in 2009 and it forms an important and ongoing component of the Government Reform Agenda.

Haddington Road Agreement Issues

Ceisteanna (29, 37)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

29. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the process that will apply in determining the restoration of pay cuts provided for under the Haddington Road Agreement; if restoration of pay cuts will automatically lead to equivalent increases for pensions in payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29652/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Browne

Ceist:

37. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the different rules that will apply in relation to the implementation of public sector pay cuts and changes to conditions of employment in the case of members of public service unions that do not sign up to the Haddington Road agreement and also non-union public servants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29651/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 29 and 29 together.

The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013 was enacted on 5 June 2013. The primary purpose of the legislation is to implement the proposed pay reduction for public servants earning annual salaries of €65,000 or more, and the parallel reduction in public service pensions over €32,500. The legislation or the public service as an employer does not distinguish between those employees who are members or not members of unions and changes in terms and conditions are applied on a grade basis.

Contingency measures that may be deployed to secure the necessary reductions in the public service pay and pensions bill are also included, including provision for a universal freeze on pay increments. The Act also affirms that the person, which may be a line Minister or other public service body, that has the power to determine terms and conditions of employment may exercise that power to reduce non-core rates of pay or to increase hours worked. However, under the legislation, a facility is provided for unions and representative associations to conclude collective agreements with their public service employers. Where a union has signed up to a collective agreement, now called the Haddington Road Agreement, that will avoid the need for those contingency measures to be used.

It is a matter for public servants and their representative unions and associations to decide if they wish to conclude a collective agreement with their employers. This issue is currently subject to consideration or ballot by those unions and associations. I as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, do not intend to comment during that process.

With regard to those grades represented by a union who do not conclude a collective agreement under the Act, as well as the increment freeze that will apply directly under the terms of the Act, the relevant decision maker will have to take the necessary measures to meet their targeted paybill savings in 2013 and following years.

Under the Haddington Road Agreement proposals, it is proposed that for those public servants on annual salaries (inclusive of allowances in the nature of pay) above €65,000 to the max of the Principal Higher Grade in the civil service or similar across the public service, the reduction in pay will be restored within a maximum of 18 months of the end of the agreement (July 2016) in two equal phases of 9 months. There are no provisions within the proposals regarding increases in pension rates on a similar basis. However, I have stated that it is my intention as a matter of priority to move towards reducing the burden of the public service pension reduction, with the initial focus on the people in receipt of low pensions, at the earliest date economic progress permits.

Shared Services

Ceisteanna (30)

Seamus Kirk

Ceist:

30. Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the timetable for the implementation of the PeoplePoint shared services initiative; the scope of the project; the processes there will be to prevent disruption to existing service delivery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29663/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

In May 2012, a formal decision was taken by the Government to set up a HR and Pensions Administration Shared Service Centre for the Civil Service. The centre is called PeoplePoint and is based in Clonskeagh in Dublin.

The PeoplePoint Project is tasked with implementing a shared services centre to process transactional HR and Pension Administration to 40 Civil Service Departments and Offices. The project will transition the 40 bodies on a phased basis with the last tranche of organisations transitioned by September 2014. PeoplePoint commenced delivering its service operations in April 2013 to the first six Departments/Offices.

The Project has in place a transition team which is specifically tasked with assisting the organisations transferring to the new PeoplePoint shared service. As part of these transition arrangements there is a strong focus on change management with a significant communications programme designed to inform the staff, managers and HR units in the organisations moving to PeoplePoint in relation to the impacts of the new services for all of them. They are also advised of any changes to work practices as a result of the new operations all with a view to minimising disruption to service delivery to the greatest extent possible.

Public Service Contracts

Question No. 32 answered with Question No. 20.

Ceisteanna (31)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

31. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the progress he has made in his consideration of the inclusion of social clauses in all significant capital projects. [29557/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The use of a social clause requiring a contractor to recruit a certain percentage of those employed on a public works construction site from the ranks of the long term unemployed will be piloted on a number of schools projects under the Devolved Schools Programme being administered by the National Development Finance Agency on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.

It is important to note that such a provision must be managed carefully both to ensure that the requirements set can be met and monitored but also consideration must be given to their impact on a sector that has experienced decline in output since 2008 as it may result in significant displacement of those already in employment.

The pilot programme undertaken as part of the Devolved Schools Programme will inform the activation measures being considered for the €1.4 billion Public Private Partnership (PPP) element of the €2.25 billion Stimulus Programme, announced by my Department. This will result in significant additional investment in the sector over and above the funds committed to the Public Capital Programme and, given the estimated workforce of 13,000 required to deliver the PPP element of the Programme, the provision of a requirement to recruit from the ranks of the long-term unemployed is entirely appropriate in this context.

A framework of contractors has been set up for the Devolved Schools Programme and the first tender will be issued shortly. Once the pilot programme is completed an evaluation will be prepared and submitted to the Government Contracts Committee for Construction for consideration of their more widespread use.

Question No. 32 answered with Question No. 20.