I can confirm for the Deputy that I have received a copy of the Fiscal Assessment Report (FAR) as published by the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council on Tuesday, 11th June. In keeping with established practice, I will provide a formal response which will issue in due course.
In terms of the Council’s assessment of the Stability Programme Update 2019 (SPU), I note its assertion that the current macroeconomic outlook is ‘unusually uncertain’ - balanced between potential overheating on one hand and the possibility of an “exceptional shock” arising from Brexit on the other. Accordingly, the Council has recommended caution in preparing for Budget 2020, a policy approach that has been a consistent hallmark of this Government’s management of the public finances.
The Summer Economic Statement (SES), will be published later this month. This will address the clear and emerging challenges the economy is facing. It will set out the broad parameters for macroeconomic growth and the fiscal outlook as well as the constraints facing the economy over the medium term.
Finally, in terms of specific controls on spending, I would say that enhanced expenditure reporting requirements can be implemented in cases where Departments have not managed within budget in the previous year. For example, such arrangements have now been put in place for the Department of Health. This involves the creation of a new oversight group chaired by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, to monitor spending and act as an early warning mechanism. Monthly spending reports from Health are now submitted to the Cabinet Committee on Health, and regular updates are provided to Government on the overall Health position.