Mick Wallace RT @wallacemick: #EU says they're interested in Dialogue - So why don't they talk to #Syria ..? They say they're interested in Rule of Law…
Mick Wallace Does #US Imperialism know no shame...?The #USEnvoyYemen is thanking #Saudi for supporting the people of #Yemen ...?… https://t.co/mlEHHPqYFL
Mick Wallace RT @wallacemick: The lack of concern shown by the #EU for the people of #Venezuela has been shocking and says much about their so called 'E…
Mick Wallace An Atalanta win over Real Madrid would be seriously good for football... https://t.co/hUfOdNomaO

PQ - Public Expenditure

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he plans to equality proof cuts made by him in Budget 2014;  and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace

For ORAL reply on Wednesday, 9th October 2013

REPLY

With regard to next week’s Budget, while the primary objective has been to reduce the deficit and return stability to the public finances, it has been of vital importance to the Government to spread the burden of adjustments in as fair and as equitable a manner as possible whilst also seeking to minimise any negative impact on economic growth.  Furthermore, it is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that all available resources are spent carefully and that critical public services continue to be delivered.

In this context, the Government recognises that expenditure on social supports has an important impact on stabilising our domestic economy through supporting the overall demand for goods and services.  Over the past few years, we have maintained primary weekly rates of social welfare payments.  In 2013 we will spend €20.2 billion on Social Welfare.  This means that all pensioners and all those under 66, such as people with disabilities and jobseekers, have had their weekly primary payments fully maintained since this Government took office.

Similarly, in the area of Education, the Government has protected DEIS resources.  In Budget 2013, for example, we ensured that there was no overall change to DEIS-related staffing levels or DEIS funding. As part of the DEIS programme, over the course of this year some €93 million is being provided to 850 schools supporting 167,000 pupils.  This funding is provided, in addition to the normal funding allocation, to address educational disadvantage by prioritising the educational needs of children and young people from disadvantaged communities, from pre-school right through second-level education.

All Ministers are responsible for assessing policy proposals in their areas and considerations of equality form an important component of budgetary discussions by Government.  When making Government decisions on Budget matters, the Government is very much aware of issues such as gender equality, persons experiencing or at risk of poverty or social exclusion, and people with disabilities. These proposals are now under careful consideration by Government in advance of finalising the 2014 Estimates and on Budget day, the Government will publish illustrative cases showing the effect of major changes in revenue and certain social welfare payments.

Furthermore, as the Deputy is aware, I introduced the new ‘whole-of-year’ budgeting reform, which was announced in the Comprehensive Expenditure Report 2012-2014.  This new process has been designed to enhance the role and the policy relevance of the Oireachtas in particular with regard to the role of Committees in ex-ante consideration of resource allocation priorities in each area.  In the future, I intend that this will provide a forum in which Oireachtas Committees and Departments can assess and discuss the equality implications of any policy proposal in advance of the final Estimates decisions.

With regard to the progressive nature of the Budget, I would like to point out to the Deputies that the ESRI recently published analysis on the distributional impacts of Budgets 2009 to 2013.  Their analysis shows that the overall adjustment to date has been progressive in nature with the lowest losses occurring in the lower income deciles and the highest losses in the top income deciles.  In addition to this, I feel it is important to point out that Ireland’s tax and benefits system has been shown by the OECD to be highly redistributive with the tax system shown to be the most progressive of developed economies.

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To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the new open Government initiative proposed by his Department will extend to increasing transparency and accountability in budgetary matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace

For ORAL reply on Thursday, 9th October, 2013.

REPLY

Following Government approval, I submitted a letter expressing Ireland’s intent to participate in the Open Government Partnership on the 15th of May and Ireland therefore joined other newly implementing countries who are developing a national action plan.

Development of Ireland’s first national action plan is now well underway.  The participation of civil society in the Open Government Partnership process is fundamental to the development of the action plan - proposals and recommendations for inclusion in the action plan were discussed at three public meetings of a network of civil society and other interests held over the summer months, as well as through online contributions.

The Report of a Consultation with Civil Society Representatives and Citizens on Ireland’s Participation in the Open Government Partnership process was submitted to me on 1st October. The report, which proposes a number of recommendations, is available on my Department’s website.

The recommendations made in the course of the OGP consultation process are consistent with the Government’s commitments to bring about a major transformation of Ireland’s budgetary system; indeed a number of initiatives are underway which increase budget transparency and accountability.  The key elements of the budgetary reform agenda were outlined in the Public Service Reform Plan published on 17 November 2011.  These reforms include:

· The annual Stability Programme Update (published in April each year) updates the medium term fiscal targets and extends them by a further year, allowing advance planning by Government based on the resources available

· The annual Estimates campaign has been replaced by a modern, multi-annual framework which allows for full transparency on the allocations available to each Department over the coming three year period.  It opens the way for structural, medium-term planning and prioritisation within each area, with full public input and parliamentary oversight

·

Departmental Estimates

are now presented in a new format organised on the basis of ‘strategic programmes’ linking the Estimates process with the Statements of Strategy and allowing for performance information to be scrutinised by Dáil Committees at the same time that public money is being requested

·

Performance Budgeting initiative

– the Government has decided to extend the Ireland Stat approach to all Departments and a data collection process is underway.

·

The Expenditure Ceilings were on an administrative basis but are now on a statutory footing through the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 2013

·

The Government has increased its on-going scrutiny and evaluation of public expenditure and all value for money studies are now published

·

All of the above reforms allow greater opportunities for the Oireachtas members, as representatives of the public, to play a more substantive role throughout the entire budgetary process, from initial allocation of funds, through to holding Ministers and public service managers to account for the achievement, or non-achievement, of stated performance targets.

· Moreover, the Government is moving towards a whole of year budgetary timetable that allows for greater, more meaningful engagement by Oireachtas Committees in contributing to Estimates discussions in advance of the allocations being finalised.  In this regard, my Department has supported the Oireachtas Service in piloting this new approach to briefing Select Committees.

This framework of budgetary reform will facilitate further consideration of the proposals on budgetary transparency contained in the report of the consultation undertaken by civil society.

As part of the next phase of the OGP process, I intend to bring a Memorandum to Government shortly outlining the civil society group’s report and submissions received.  I expect, subject to Government approval, to establish a group comprising both public officials and civil society representatives who will give further consideration to all recommendations made, including on budgetary matters, to prioritise in terms of what is realistic and achievable over the next two years for inclusion in the first action plan. Action plans cover a two-year period and we will report on progress on an annual basis.

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To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the percentage of public sector pensioners currently receiving a pension of €5,000 or less per annum; the percentage of public sector pensioners currently receiving a pension of between €10,000 and €11,000 per annum; the percentage of public sector pensioners currently receiving a pension of between €11,000 and €20,000 per annum; the percentage of public sector pensioners currently receiving a pension of between €20,000 and €40,000 per annum; and the percentage of public sector pensioners receiving a pension of more than €40,000 per annum; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 20th June, 2013.

REPLY

The data provided below applies to retired Civil Servants only. Pensions payable to Spouses and children are not included.

Range   Number Percentage   of retired  Civil Servants
  >5,000 4464 28%
10,000 11,000 309 2%
11,000 20,000 2507 16%
20,000 40,000 6114 40%
  <40,000 2017 14%

The above figures take account of the Public Service Pension reduction.

Details in relation to the pension of other Public Servants and (eg Local Authority workers, Health Sector) in relation to State Pensions can be provided by the relevant Minister for each sector.

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To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of jobs he anticipates will be created as a result of the recently announced €150 million allocation in Exchequer capital funding for 2013 to 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 20th June, 2013.

REPLY

The projects identified for delivery through the additional €150m Exchequer funding will begin to be rolled out over the summer. Departments will initially meet costs associated with these projects from within their existing budgets on the basis that they will be reimbursed for moneys spent in 2013 once proceeds from State asset sales and from the National Lottery Licence are realised towards the end of the year. While it is difficult to predict the exact quantum of funding which will be spent in 2013, it is expected to be in the region of €70m with the remainder being spent in 2014 and a small element in 2015.

The funding has already been allocated to specific projects and these were identified in the announcement made earlier this month. More details regarding specific projects are available from the relevant Departments. All of the projects to be funded through this package are capital projects.

The additional Exchequer funding has been targeted towards smaller scale capital works mainly aimed at maintaining or improving existing assets. As well as maintaining our assets, the works proposed are known to be labour intensive, will help create jobs and will be spread throughout local communities. Minor works tend to be more labour intensive than major new build projects with figures rising in some instances to 17-19 jobs created per €1m expenditure. It is expected that this additional Exchequer funding can support in the region of 3,000 jobs over the period of the roll-out. This is on top of the estimated 13,000 jobs which will be supported through the new PPP Programme which I announced last July.

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