With a view to increasing transparency around the budgetary process and to facilitate meaningful dialogue around key elements of the Budget, over the last number of years, a range of reforms have been implemented in order to enhance Ireland’s budgetary framework and ensure that expenditure is managed in an efficient and effective way.
Adopting a ‘whole-of-year’ budgetary framework is a key component of this process. This ensures that consideration of budgetary priorities are continued throughout the year and are not confined to focusing on the budget discussions announced on Budget Day. This process is facilitated by the publication of a range of documents at various points in the year to enhance engagement on relevant budgetary issues.
Further to this, improving and supporting the evaluation capacity within Government Departments has also formed an important part of the reform programme. Supported by the establishment of the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service, this has led to the development of a number of additional processes and reports to support the budgetary framework. In this regard, the spending review has become a key step in the budgetary cycle. It has and continues to assist in preparations for the Budget by providing analyses of existing expenditure programmes. By continuing to expand the evidence base, the process also enables longer-term improvements in how policy is designed, implemented and evaluated.
Looking forward, from 2021 onwards, the Programme for Government commits to continuing reform and improvement of the Budgetary process and proposes that each Minister will be required to produce service improvement and reform plans in conjunction with my Department, within an overall context of an enhanced focus across Government on issues of well-being. In implementing this reform, my Department will look to build on the budgetary reforms already in place and the significant work on public service reform already completed.
Adopting this approach will ensure stronger dialogue in this House on key elements of budgetary policy and will help to facilitate the continued development of budgetary decisions, consistent with the maintenance of stable public finances.