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Health (Amendment) Bill 2020: Second Stage (23 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: I am amazed at the announcements this morning from the NVRL at University College Dublin, of which Dr. Cillian De Gascun is the laboratory director. The Ministers have to decide who is going to take care of the shortfall mentioned in this announcement. We have lost the capacity for 30,000 tests at the laboratory. We do not know who will do them instead or what preparations have been made...

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: I thank the witnesses for coming in. They will not have seen me before. Sticking to pensions, we can see from the single public service pension scheme that in 2013, it took three years for anything to happen in 2016 with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and it has been underestimated every year since. Can the witnesses give me the reason that it is continually underestimated...

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: No. It is the underestimating of the appropriations-in-aid.

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: No. It is the underestimating of the appropriations-in-aid in relation to the single public service pension scheme. It was underestimated by €94 million in 2019 and by €92.5 million.

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: I apologise for interrupting but my time is limited. It is an ongoing challenge but how does the Department propose to deal with it?

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: I accept that Mr. Watt said the Department does not know what to do about it. However, what form did the review take?

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: I will put my question to Mr. Pender. From the perspective of actuarially assessing it, the sum of €94 million appears to be a big gap.

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: It was 2013 so it is almost ten years old.

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: Okay. There does not appear to be an answer to it.

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: According to the figures I have, it was underestimated by €94 million.

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: Yes, €92.5 million were due.

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: The Exchequer picks up the tab because it was not paid by the employers. Is that correct?

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: It appears that the Exchequer has picked up the tab for certain agencies.

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: That relates to those bodies.

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: Given that we expect an €11 billion deficit to occur as a result of this lockdown, I am very concerned.

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: I am talking about the loss from the small and medium enterprises, SMEs.

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: Is there any model anywhere that looks better?

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: I have a quick question for Mr. Watt. I understand we are discussing the accounts, but Mr. Watt referred to Covid and all the other implications. I wonder about our debt and deficit sustainability. There are estimates of €20 billion for this year and next year, which will drive up the national debt to more than €250 billion. The GNI has obviously gone up through the roof....

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: Do we have a debt ceiling? I am running out of time.

Public Accounts Committee: 2019 Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Appropriation Accounts
Vote 11 - Office of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
Vote 12 – Superannuation and Retired Allowances
Chapter 3 - Vote Accounting and Budget Management
Chapter 4 - Accounting for Capital Assets
Chapter 5 - Accounting for Allied Services
(22 Oct 2020)

Verona Murphy: To go back to pensions, given that there does not appear to be a strategy to cope with the measure, could Mr. Watt put something together, including a timeframe, for dealing with this? Could it be presented to this committee in the coming weeks?

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