Officials from my Department met with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) earlier this month in order to discuss implications to this Department's budget of a necessary adjustment to the 2019 capital allocation, following over expenditure within the Department of Health and Children on the National Children's Hospital.
While we protect our important investment programmes, we work with DPER at budget time and throughout the year to ensure our investment programmes can be fully funded and prioritised within the constraints that face Government in managing scarce resources.
The Government is committed to delivering Project Ireland within the overall multi-year resource envelope that has been set out. For 2019 the capital allocation has increased by €1,325 million, or just over 22% above the 2018 allocation as stated in the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2019.
The A5 upgrade project has been identified as a budgetary adjustment which could be made this year without direct impact on the progress of projects included in Project Ireland 2040, thus releasing €27m from this year's capital allocation for transfer via DPER to the Department of Health and Children.
The planning and implementation of the A5 upgrade project is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland authorities and my Department continues to liaise with the Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure regarding next steps in relation to the project and the timeframes involved. DfI intends to issue for consultation on an addendum to its previously published Environmental Statement.
As a result of the above consultation, it is not possible to state definitively when construction of Phase 1a of the A5 project will commence. It is envisaged that payments from Ireland will be based on an agreed protocol and linked to the achievement of construction stage milestones. In that context, the provision of funding during our own financial year 2019 is no longer considered appropriate. Accordingly, it is considered prudent to revise the timeframe for expenditure on the A5 upgrade project.
I would ask the deputy to note that the overall allocation for this project over the lifetime of Project Ireland 2040 has not changed and funding is assured from 2020 onward.