Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Committee on Budgetary Oversight

Pre-Budget 2022 Scrutiny: Irish Fiscal Advisory Council

Photo of Neasa HouriganNeasa Hourigan (Dublin Central, Green Party) | Oireachtas source

I thank Mr. Barnes for that interesting response. When it comes to health, it is possible some of that data is not collated and as such it does not exist. This is going to be an issue going forward. I am interested in Mr. Barnes's first point around meeting the core spending. I noted in last year's budget, for the first time, that the mental health allocation was divided into spend for current services and spend for implementation of new programmes. It was incredibly useful for the mental health sector to be able to see how that would play out. In the application of new programmes such as Sláintecare it would seem very important to disaggregate current spending and new programmes spend. I hope to see more of that in the coming budget.

I commend IFAC on its report. It is a fascinating read. Towards the end of it, there is reference to higher investment, addressing priorities and how that might be costly. In terms of economic oversight and fiscal planning, I take the point around capital investment and public spend on particular investment programmes or infrastructure. I am mindful of the NDP, hopefully, being published soon. From a climate perspective, is that a challenge for the witnesses, or is it something that you are mindful of, when it comes to forecasting requirements in terms of the economic outcomes of particular capital investments? There may also be a requirement for economic forecasting on the lack of investment or the failure to do something. I am thinking specifically of not just the physical impacts of climate change, for example, where we are seeing water infrastructure that is beginning to fall apart and has a knock-on cost to our health system or, perhaps, inward investment which may see our infrastructure as not fit for purpose, but also global policy changes and the expectation that Ireland would meet them. IFAC has included the cost of investment in its report. How difficult is it for it to include in these types of reports the cost of not investing?


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