I propose to take Questions Nos. 92, 93, 95, 96 and 99 together.
Since 2015, it has been possible to provide modest, sustainable increases in expenditure each year. The Government’s approach in that time has been based on steady increases in public expenditure, underpinned by stable and predictable tax revenues. This approach is aimed at delivering steady and sustainable improvements in public services and infrastructure, while protecting our hard-won economic recovery. Under this approach, a key consideration when allocating funding is whether it is affordable both now and into the future. This requires continuing prudent management of the public finances.
A further element of this approach is to prioritise spending that mitigates risk, enhances the resilience of the economy and raises our growth capacity. This is the context for the National Development Plan. The capital expenditure ceilings set out in the Revised Estimates Volume reflect the multi-annual ceilings agreed by Government and published in the NDP.
As part of this prudent management, over the last number of years a number of reforms have been implemented to support increased transparency and accountability in the budgetary process. This includes the Performance and Equality Budgeting initiatives, the publication of reports such as the Mid-Year Expenditure Report and the Summer Economic Statement and the roll-out of the Spending Review process. These reforms aim to facilitate a more meaningful dialogue around expenditure decisions and a shift in focus away from simply how much is being spent, towards what is being achieved.
Efficient management of expenditure is a key part of protecting our ongoing economic recovery and this forms a key part of the role of each Government Minister. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is in regular contact with all other Departments and Offices to ensure that expenditure is being managed within the overall fiscal parameters.
The January Fiscal Monitor presents a year-on-year comparison. At end-January, total gross voted expenditure was €5,135 million. This is an increase of €328 million, or 6.8% in year-on-year terms. Gross voted current expenditure of €4,911 million was €322 million, or 7% ahead of the same period in 2018, while gross voted capital expenditure of €225 million was €6 million, or 2.6% up in year-on-year terms. Monthly expenditure profiles for each Government Department will be published this month. From February on, as is usual, the drawdown of funds from the Exchequer will be reported on each month against expenditure profiles, in the Fiscal Monitor published by the Department of Finance.