Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
Public Expenditure Policy
136. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the main aspects of the benefits accruing to the well-being of the economy through the influence of expenditure and reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3113/20]
139. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the degree to which he remains satisfied that the targets of his Department will continue to remain on course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3116/20]
140. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which he expects public expenditure and reform to remain and play an important role in the economic progress of the country in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3117/20]
142. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which he is of the view public expenditure and reform need to remain part of economic and fiscal strategy in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3119/20]
144. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if changes in public expenditure and reform are required in the short to medium term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3121/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 136, 139, 140, 142 and 144 together.
The improvement in economic conditions over the last number of years has enabled the Government to increase investment in public services. Priority has been given to additional funding in the areas of infrastructure, education, childcare and health. This investment delivers on immediate social and economic needs while also providing sustained longer-term benefits to the State. Strong growth in capital spending is a notable feature of the recovery in public spending. This investment has centred on key areas such as social housing, transport and schools and is reflective of the Government’s goal of delivering growth-enhancing investment in conjunction with sustainable progress on social priorities.
Recent fiscal policy has been based on implementing sustainable growth in expenditure that remains affordable over the medium term. In supporting this position, the Government has strived to ensure that public services are delivered in the most efficient and effective way possible. To this end, a number of reforms have been put in place in recent years, including the Performance Budgeting Initiative, the Equality Budgeting Initiative, the National Economic Dialogue and the Spending Review.
It is crucial that this approach is maintained in the medium term in order to mitigate against emerging risks in the domestic and global economy. In light of this, it is imperative that both current and capital expenditure is managed within profile this year by all Government Departments.
The Update to the Medium Term Fiscal Strategy published by the Department of Finance on 9th January set out fiscal projections to 2025. The strategy underpinning these projections is focussed on delivering General Government surpluses that would act as the first line of defence against potential risks to the economy and public finances.
Within this Fiscal framework it is imperative that sustainable expenditure policies, that continue to deliver improvements in public services and infrastructure, are pursued to support the well-being of the overall Irish economy and continued economic and social progress.
137. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the main aspects of the benefited influence of expenditure and reform to the citizenry over the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3114/20]
141. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the degree to which public expenditure and reform has been instrumental in the delivery of results to the country and the citizenry in the past eight years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3118/20]
145. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent to which the performance of his Department has contributed to economic recovery here; the way in which this compares to other jurisdictions throughout the EU in the eurozone and elsewhere; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3122/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 137, 141 and 145 together.
Following a period of consolidation, it has been possible since 2015 to provide for moderate, sustainable expenditure growth on an annual basis. The Government has prioritised spending that mitigates risk, enhances the resilience of the economy and raises our growth capacity whilst making incremental and sustainable improvements in public services. The steady growth in expenditure in recent years reflects the significant effort made by the Government to moderate the level of expenditure increases and to secure a sustainable long-term path to growth.
In further support of this, a wide range of budgetary reforms have been implemented in the last number of years to improve transparency and accountability around the Budget process, while also facilitating best economic practice. This includes initiatives such as performance and equality budgeting and new publications such as the Summer Economic Statement and the Mid-Year Expenditure Report.
Sound public finances are necessary to underpin sustainable economic growth in the context of our economic recovery and to progress towards our social and economic goals. This requires effective and efficient management of overall expenditure. To support this goal, my Department has been engaging for the last three years with a range of Departments on the Spending Review process. The aim of this process is reinforce a systematic analysis of existing spending programmes, focusing on an assessment of efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability. Budget 2020 also saw the publication of the first ‘Citizen’s Guide to the Budget’; a short, accessible document which put the Budget in simple terms, in order to make the process as accessible as possible. This document also sets out the services that will be delivered to the people of Ireland in an accessible way. For example, in 2020:
- 108,000 children will be enrolled in the ECCE programme;
- 137,000 farmers will be supported through various agricultural schemes;
- 355,000 people will be provided with illness, disability and carer's benefit; and
- 677,000 people will be provided with pension payments.
Over the last five years, Irish General Government expenditure as a proportion of GNI* has moved to be broadly in line with the EU average figures for General Government expenditure as a percentage of GDP. In terms of capital expenditure, the overall public capital allocationfor 2020 is €8.2 billion. At this level gross voted capital investment in 2020 will reach c. 4 percent of national income (GNI*) compared to an EU average in recent years of 2.9 percent (GDP).