Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Ceisteanna (91)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

91. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach the number of credit cards issued to Ministers and officials working in his Department; the amount spent on credit cards in each year since 2016; the bank interest paid on credit cards in each year since 2016; the controls in place to monitor the issuing of and the expenditure on the cards; and the controls in place in each agency to monitor expenditure on personally held credit card bills that are subsequently used to recoup work related expenses. [52581/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

No credit cards are issued to Ministers in my Department. There are currently five credit cards in use for official purposes assigned to three Heads of Division (Finance, HR and IT) and two Private Secretaries.

Departmental credit cards are used for official purposes only. They are allocated to officials where the facility will be of practical use in meeting the requirements of official business, for example, while away from the office; and to procure goods and services such as on-line conference bookings, air travel, purchase of IT equipment and library supplies. Increasingly, online bookings for flights, hotels, rail travel and newspaper subscriptions can only be secured with credit cards and online discounts or better value rates are applied for such bookings.

The use of official credit cards is closely monitored by my Department's Finance Unit on an ongoing basis. Expenditure must be supported by receipts submitted by card holders each month as part of the approval process for the associated expenditure. The allocation and use of official credit cards are reviewed on an ongoing basis, with a view to minimising the number of cards allocated.

In general, staff in my Department do not use personal credit cards for official expenses. However, if an official expense is incurred on a personal credit card, the expense can be reimbursed as long as the purchase adheres to normal procurement and approval guidelines.

My Department's spend on credit cards for the period 2016 to 2019 is detailed in the following table.

YEAR

TOTAL CREDIT CARD SPEND

INTEREST PAID

2016

€45,304.60

0

2017

€64,308.26

0

2018

€81,377.18

0

to end November 2019

€56,894.61

0

The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO), a body under the aegis of my Department, has currently 1 credit card in operation. During the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 there were 2 credit cards in operation. A total amount of €13,485.71 was charged to those credit cards in 2016, €13,646.41 was charged to those cards in 2017 and €20,902.60 was charged to those cards in 2018. During 2019 due to staff changes, there were 4 credit cards in operation which has subsequently been reduced to 1 credit card. In 2019 to date, €14,634.06 has been charged to credit cards. No bank interest has been paid in any of the years in question. Credit cards are used for official purposes only, for example, travel related expenses, conference attendances, ordering research articles and payment of subscriptions. Credit cards are only used where normal procurement procedures (i.e. using a Purchase Order) cannot be applied, for example, paying foreign hotel bills. It is not the practice for NESDO staff to use personal credit cards for work purposes.