Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Brian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 12, inclusive, together.
Planned expenditure levels for my Department and the associated offices in my Vote group will be considered as part of the 2010 Estimates and budgetary process. The report of the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes will be considered. Decisions on all issues arising from that report will be a matter for the Government. While the Estimates process is ongoing, I assure the House that my Department and the associated offices will play their part in achieving the overall expenditure reductions required by the Government. In that context, separate programme funding for the work of the Ireland Newfoundland Partnership and the Taskforce on Active Citizenship will cease in 2010. The future work of those bodies will be supported by existing staff in my Department. The separate offices in these areas have been discontinued, which will give rise to significant savings on my Department's Vote. The National Forum on Europe has been discontinued, which will also give rise to significant savings. When the budgetary process for 2010 has been completed by the Government, I anticipate that significant additional savings will be achieved in my Department, the National Economic and Social Development Office and the Central Statistics Office.
There has been a reduction in staff numbers in all Departments and offices as a result of Government policies that have been introduced since the economic crisis began. In the case of my Department, I anticipate that the number of core Civil Service staff will fall by approximately 10% as a result of the various schemes introduced to date. I am aware of particular pressures on demand-led areas of expenditure in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Office of the Chief State Solicitor, which may make it difficult to achieve substantial reductions in expenditure in those areas. In that regard, the House recently approved a Supplementary Estimate of €4 million for this year in respect of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. As the Minister for Finance outlined in the debate on the Supplementary Estimate, it was financed from savings in my Department and the Central Statistics Office. The need to continue to ensure sufficient funding for the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Chief State Solicitor is to the fore in the current discussions on the 2010 Estimates. I assure the House that my Department and the associated offices will make significant savings on expenditure in 2010. This process will be managed in a way that minimises disruption to the valuable public services they provide. It would not be appropriate for me to comment beyond that at this stage, pending the outcome of the Government's deliberations on these matters.