Due to the scale of Government expenditure and the cash basis of Government accounting, the need for Supplementary Estimates can arise for a number of reasons, including policy decisions, timing issues and overspends. Supplementary Estimates are an important element of our expenditure management toolkit, allowing for the proper alignment of resources with allocations.
Expenditure Report 2020 outlined the requirement for Supplementary Estimates for a number of Votes in 2019, as a result of policy decisions - including in relation to the provision of a 100 per cent Christmas Bonus - and expenditure pressures, in particular in the Health sector. At that point, it was estimated that the aggregate amount required for Supplementary Estimates would be approximately €660 million.
At this week’s Government meeting, eleven Supplementary Estimates were agreed. With the agreement of the Business Committee it is proposed that these Supplementary Estimates will be presented to Dáil Éireann next week for referral to the relevant Committees before returning to the Dáil to be voted on in December. Of these, eight are substantive Supplementary Estimates, relating to:
- Vote 6 – Chief State Solicitor’s Office;
- Vote 7 – Finance;
- Vote 20 – Garda Síochána;
- Vote 24 – Justice and Equality;
- Vote 31 – Transport, Tourism and Sport;
- Vote 35 – Army Pensions;
- Vote 37 – Employment Affairs and Social Protection; and
- Vote 40 – Children and Youth Affairs.
The remaining three are technical Supplementary Estimates, relating to:
- Vote 28 – Foreign Affairs and Trade
- Vote 29 – Communications, Climate Action and Environment; and
- Vote 32 – Business, Enterprise and Innovation.
The total amount being sought in these Supplementary Estimates is €204 million.
The Expenditure Report outlined that there would be a requirement for Supplementary Estimates in Health, Education and to fund Brexit-related expenditure to ensure that the relevant authorities would be in a position to carry out necessary compliance checks at the ports and Dublin Airport. The aggregate amount outlined in the Expenditure Report across these three headings was €450 million. It is planned to seek Government agreement for presentation of these Supplementary Estimates next week when the amounts required are finalised. In addition, any further Supplementary Estimates of a minor or technical nature would also be finalised for next week.
Although the risk of a disorderly Brexit in 2019 has receded, considerable uncertainty still remains as regards the final outcome. Consequently, the Budget 2020 underlying assumption of a No Deal Brexit ensures the Government has the necessary resources at its disposal to meet the impact of this exceptional challenge, whilst preserving the longer-term sustainability of the public finances. This would allow the sectors and regions most effected by a disorderly Brexit to be supported through timely, temporary and targeted support measures. The contingency funding outlined in Budget 2020, which would need to be borrowed, would only be made available in the event of a No Deal Brexit and would be provided if required in 2020 either by way of Further Revised Estimate or Supplementary Estimate.