Thursday, 12 October 2017
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
148. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the 2016 expenditure figures for his department released in the report by the Comptroller and Auditor General and the gross deficit in spending of €106 million; the reason there was a €144 million payment made relating to the 2007 to 2013 rural development programme; and the gross surplus or deficit in spending in each of the years 2010 to 2016, in tabular form. [43353/17]
The recent report by the C&AG outlined gross savings in 2016 of €106m for the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine.
The total gross voted allocation for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine for 2016 was €1,363m and total gross expenditure of €1,257m.
As the Deputy will be aware, 2016 was a challenging year for many farmers financially. This resulted in slower than anticipated draw down of funding in some demand led schemes such as the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS), where matching investment was required and the forestry programme, which is also demand led.
While savings unavoidably arose across a number of demand-led schemes in 2016, this expenditure will arise at a later stage of implementation of these schemes, particularly with regard to spending allocated under the Rural Development Programme and the Seafood Development Programme.
Notwithstanding the slower than expected drawdown of funds in these Programmes I want to assure you that Government is firmly committed to fully funding the RDP and SDP Programmes; drawdown is simply a matter of timing.
As is often the case with multi-annual programmes, drawdown can vary from year to year and indeed some of the multi-year RDP scheme payments related to entrants to schemes which commenced under the previous Rural Development Programme.
It should be noted that there were increased levels of payments in support schemes such as the Areas of Natural Constraints scheme and the Beef Data and Genomics Programme due to strong compliance with conditions and a fast turnaround of claims.
The €144m in EAFRD receipts referred to in the report was mainly due to the timing of the formal closure of the 2007-2013 Rural Development Programme (RDP) and the subsequent release by the EU of 5% of receipts retained as provided for in EU Regulation until formal closure.
Table 1. Gross Surplus/Deficit in Expenditure 2010-2016
|Year||Voted Allocation (includes capital carryover) €’000||Expenditure €’000||Excess/Surplus €’000|
These arose from savings in a variety of capital and current expenditure subheads across the vote and are not limited to schemes under the Rural Development Programme.
It is very important to articulate that there is no underspend in the RDP.Ireland’s drawdown of EU Rural Development Programme funding is 2nd highest of any Member State. Our rate is 38%, almost double the EU average of 20%.