Wednesday, 6 October 2010
Ceisteanna - Questions
Question 20: To ask the Taoiseach Taoiseach the expenditure incurred by his Department for the first half of 2010; the way this compares with the provision in the Estimates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29186/10]
Question 21: To ask the Taoiseach Taoiseach the level of expenditure by his Department during the first half of 2010; the way in which this compares with the forecast in the estimates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30253/10]
Question 22: To ask the Taoiseach Taoiseach the level of expenditure incurred by his Department in the first eight months of 2010; the way this compares with the provision in the estimates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32304/10]
Question 23: To ask the Taoiseach Taoiseach the progress made regarding the implementation of the recommendations of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes in so far as they apply to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32319/10]
Question 24: To ask the Taoiseach Taoiseach the recommendations of the Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes that relate to his Department; the progress made in the implementation of these recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34789/10]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 20 to 24, inclusive, together.
While fluctuations in spending occur from month to month and some expenditures do not fall due until the end of the year, I am satisfied that overall spending by my Department for 2010 will remain within the agreed revised Estimates for the year.
Work on implementing the recommendations of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure is ongoing in my Department.
In this context, separate programme funding for the work of the Ireland Newfoundland Partnership and the Active Citizenship Office ceased in 2009. The separate offices in these areas have been discontinued and this has given rise to significant savings on my Department's Vote.
The National Forum on Europe was closed in 2009 which also gave rise to significant savings.
In addition there has been significant savings in the National Economic and Social Development Office, NEDSO. The Government considered the role of the office in the context of the report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes and the recommendations of a value for money review of the office carried out in my Department. These took account of the evolution of policy and programmes since the various bodies were established, not least the increase in the sources of policy analysis and commentary.
In light of these considerations, the Government decided to amalgamate the three constituent bodies of the National Economic and Social Development Office by absorbing the National Economic and Social Forum, NESF, and the National Centre for Partnership and Performance, NCPP, into the National Economic and Social Council, NESC. In consequence of this, the NESF and the NCPP were dissolved with effect from 1 April 2010. As a result of these changes the budget for NESDO in 2010 was reduced by 34% to €3.332 million with potential for further administrative savings once the restructuring is implemented.
In common with all Departments and offices, there has been a reduction in staff numbers arising from Government policies. In my Department the number of whole time equivalent staff employed has reduced by 10% since the end of 2008. I assure the House that my Department will make significant savings on expenditure in 2010, and that this process will be managed so as to minimise the disruption to the very valuable public services they provide.
Given that the Minister for Finance has a difficult task preparing a budget in unprecedented economic circumstances and if everything is on the table, can the Taoiseach outline the significant savings in expenditure in his Department for 2011? Has he had a look at what else he might have to deal with in his Department for next year to make a contribution to the overall figure to be determined by the Government by mid-November?
The Estimates campaign is ongoing. Discussions between the Department of Finance and the Taoiseach of the day are traditionally brief and the Taoiseach usually takes on board what the Minister for Finance has to say in terms of leading by example.
Those issues are being dealt with by the staff and the management in the context of Estimates discussions which have begun and are ongoing. The reply that I have been able to give confirms that the Department of the Taoiseach is no different from any other Department. It must make a contribution to the overall budgetary imperatives.
My understanding is implementation bodies have been appointed and the idea was that they would consider proposals from Departments for reforms and further savings. Have such proposals been put by the Taoiseach's Department for consideration by those bodies?
If we keep it that way, we cannot go wrong.
The Department of Finance has begun the process of preparing proposals on changes to be addressed at a central level for inclusion in the action plan for the Civil Service and State agencies. My Department is currently considering actions that could be taken within the Department and bodies under its aegis.