Written answers

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Budget Consultation Process

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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89. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to support an expansion of the budget scrutiny process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10935/18]

Photo of Paschal DonohoePaschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)
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The Government's commitment to reform of the budgetary process is demonstrated by the changes to the budget scrutiny process that have been implemented as part of the ongoing budgetary reform agenda. A key objective of these changes is to ensure adequate information is provided throughout the budget process to allow for meaningful and timely engagement between Government and the Oireachtas. 

Key milestones for the current budgetary process within the reformed approach, implemented to ensure that the process is underpinned by substantially enhanced Dáil input and feedback on budget proposals, include:-

- The publication of the Government’s Summer Economic Statement, which provides an updated assessment of the macro-economic and fiscal prospects, including the medium-term fiscal framework;

- The National Economic Dialogue that facilitates an open and inclusive exchange on the competing economic and social priorities in advance of the Budget. These discussions can then inform Government and Oireachtas considerations on the Budget;

- The publication of a Mid-Year Expenditure Report that identifies baseline pre-Budget expenditure ceilings; and

- Circulation of the Tax Strategy Papers in advance of the Budget.

To enhance the ongoing performance budgeting initiative, which aims to facilitate Oireachtas Committees in holding Ministers and Departments to account for how resources are used, last year my Department published the first Public Service Performance Report. A key objective of this Report is to equip Oireachtas Committees with timely information on what was delivered with public funds for each Department the previous year. The Report on performance in 2017 is currently in preparation. Following on from the pilot programme in relation to equality budgeting, with equality goals and indicators published in the Revised Estimates, the Report will contain an update on the progress and steps that are being taken by Departments to work towards realising their objectives in this area.

Specifically looking at the equality budgeting initiative my Department will continue to work on the future roll-out and expansion of this initiative and to support Departments participating in the initiative to develop the skills necessary to successfully equality proof relevant policies and programmes. 

As part of my Estimates speech on Budget day in 2016, I announced that a spending review would take place on a three-year rolling basis. The Spending Review in 2017 was the first cycle of a series of selective reviews of the current expenditure base that will remain in place for a 3-year period. The spending review will operate as a separate but parallel process to the Budget and will therefore inform the preparation of the next two Budgets.

In advance of Budget 2019, the Spending Review in 2018 will examine the next phase of expenditure topics. It is planned that the remaining phase of the Spending Review will be covered the following year.  The primary objective of the Spending Review in 2018 is to build on the work completed in 2017 and continue to reinforce the use of data, evidence and analysis to support decision-making in the Estimates process.

The work programme of the Committee on Budget Oversight supported by the work of the independent Parliamentary Budget Office also have a very important role to play in the budget scrutiny process.  In that context, I am open to considering proposals agreed by the Committee on the how the budget scrutiny process can be further strengthened.


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