Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 124-145
 Header Item Legal Costs
 Header Item Public Sector Reform Implementation
 Header Item Community Employment Schemes Supervisors
 Header Item Insurance Data
 Header Item Local Authority Staff Remuneration
 Header Item Public Sector Pensions Levy
 Header Item Community Employment Schemes Supervisors
 Header Item Public Sector Pay
 Header Item Infrastructure and Capital Investment Programme
 Header Item Fiscal Policy
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Public Procurement Regulations
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Coastal Protection
 Header Item Drainage Schemes Status

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 953 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 68 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 124-145

Legal Costs

 124. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the oversights in place in terms of the expenditure of publicly funded bodies on legal defence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26272/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Chief State Solicitor’s Office (CSSO) acts on behalf of central Government in the conduct of the defence of litigation, excluding the defence of those claims handled by the State Claims Agency (CSA). The CSSO is a constituent part of the Office of the Attorney General and comes under the remit of the Department of the Taoiseach. The CSSO has its own Vote and is subject to the oversight of the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) in relation to its expenditure. Disbursements arising as a result of a court award or settlement of proceedings (e.g. damages, costs) are funded by the relevant Department or Office of State and accounted for in its Appropriation Account.   

The Chief State Solicitor is the Accounting Officer and, pursuant to section 3(5) of the Committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Compellability, Privileges and Immunities of Witnesses) Act 1997, may be called to give evidence before the Public Accounts Committee in relation to the general administration of the office.

The main legal expenditure within the Office is in regard to fees paid to Counsel and the Office has a rigorous process in place to ensure value for money.

Oversight on legal spend by Central Government is a matter for the Comptroller and Auditor General. The CSSO has no visibility of defence litigation expenditure where it is not the solicitor on record and the CSSO has no oversight role in this regard.

The State Claims Agency provides legal defence in respect of personal injury matters for 145 public bodies. It is mandated to contain the cost of claims to the lowest achievable level and, in relation to legal defence costs. The SCA does this in a number of ways, including through procurement of legal services on a competitive tendering basis via the Government’s eTender website, extensive use of its own in-house solicitors for much of the litigation arising on its General Indemnity and Clinical Indemnity Schemes, and the establishment of a Legal Costs Unit in 2012 which is primarily involved in the negotiation of third party legal costs but also provides guidance and assistance to the SCA’s claims’ teams in relation to defence legal costs. Furthermore, all aspects of the Agency's work is the subject of both internal and external audit, including by the C&AG and the NTMA’s internal audit function.

In addition, the Office of Government Procurement, which commenced operations in 2014, has taken responsibility for the procurement of Professional Services and has developed a sourcing strategy for legal services and more particularly those services which public bodies procure from solicitors. Given the range of legal requirements that exist across all sectors within the public service, the OGP has already implemented six key Framework Agreements/contracting arrangements for Legal Services and is currently examining a further two. 

Public Sector Reform Implementation

 125. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans for outsourcing in the public service; and if the cost of labour will continue to be excluded from the business case for outsourcing of public services. [26403/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Government is committed to using alternative models of service delivery, including outsourcing, as part of our ongoing drive to provide the most efficient and effective services to the public.

External Service Delivery formed a key component of previous Public Service Reform Plans published in 2011 and 2014 respectively.  To meet the obligations set out in these plans, Departments and Offices were requested to produce specific proposals outlining their ambitions in respect of outsourcing, in addition to detailing the services that they already deliver using external providers. These documents were published in 2015 and are available on my Department's website.

Officials at my Department are currently in the process of preparing a successor to the Public Service Reform Plan which is intended to cover the period up to 2020. I expect that alternative models of service delivery, including the option to outsource services in appropriate circumstances, will feature as a mechanism that is available to public service managers to allow them to innovate and deliver the most cost-effective services to the citizen.

Nevertheless, I wish to stress that decisions to outsource functions are reached on a case-by-case basis by the organisation that manages the service in question.  The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s role is to support public service bodies in exploring all service delivery options that are available to them and to ensure evidence-informed decisions are made when selecting a delivery model. In order to meet that objective, my Department have undertaken a substantial programme of learning and development over a number of recent years to up-skill public service managers on best practice around outsourcing using evidence-based techniques.

In line with existing expenditure policy, public bodies are generally required to look at a number of different factors when exploring the potential to outsource a function. These factors include issues such as costs, quality, service effectiveness and the public interest. This continues to be the case in respect of any new service that is being mooted for delivery by public bodies.

As the Deputy may be aware, in concluding the Lansdowne Road Agreement in the summer of 2015, a limitation was placed on the ability of public bodies to outsource existing services. In particular, a restriction was introduced which prevented direct comparisons being made between total labour costs for direct provision of a service against the total labour costs of a potential outsourced provider in the preparation of the business case.

As I have stated, this restriction only applies in respect of existing services; that is services that are currently being provided directly by the State or its agents.  It does not apply in respect of newly conceived or planned services.

In respect of the second aspect of the Deputy's question, these matters are currently under deliberation by the management and staff association parties in the context of the ongoing pay talks.  Accordingly, it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further on that issue at this point.

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

 126. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe further to Parliamentary Question No. 162 of 10 May 2017, the position regarding the progress of discussions on the issue of pension provision for community employment supervisors which is currently being examined by a community sector high level forum. [25761/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Community Sector High Level Forum (or Working Group) (previously the Informal Forum) was convened in 2015 and 2016 to examine certain issues pertaining to the Community Employment sector having regard to the implications for costs and precedent.   The Forum continues to meet, most recently on 7 April last, to give consideration to the issues to which the Deputy refers.

It does however continue to be the position that state organisations are not the employer of the particular employees concerned and that it is not possible for the State to provide funding for such a scheme. The employees in question are, or were, employees of private companies notwithstanding the fact that the companies concerned are, or were, reliant on State funding.  In considering the matter, regard must be had to the costs and the precedent of such an arrangement were one to be created.  Further detailed scoping work is required in this regard over the coming months and I look forward to being briefed on the outcome of that work in due course.

Insurance Data

 129. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the expenses incurred by his Department in relation to insurance of all types in each of the past five years; the cost of each insurance policy held by his Department over the same time period per annum; if he will provide the same data for all bodies under the aegis of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26291/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe In response to the Deputy's question, my Department and the bodies under its aegis operate under State Indemnity, a self-insurance model whereby the State bears the financial risk associated with the cost of claims.  This approach is set out in the Public Financial Procedures at C8 Section 11, whereby the general rule is that no insurance should be effected against the risk of any loss which if it arose would fall wholly and directly on public funds.  This is based on the understanding that the risks for which the Government is liable are innumerable and widely distributed and that losses maturing in any one year are never so large as to materially disturb the financial position of the year, so that it is cheaper in the long term for the Exchequer to "carry its own insurance".

The National Treasury Management Agency is designated as the State Claims Agency (SCA) when performing the claims and risk management functions delegated to it under the National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Act, 2000.  Since the establishment of the SCA, the management of claims functions has been delegated to the agency and it currently manages claims and risks on behalf of 139 delegated State Authorities, including my Department. 

Local Authority Staff Remuneration

 130. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe when a decision will issue on the application by a person (details supplied) for a supplementary pension from Dublin City Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26308/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe My Department provided the necessary advice on this matter to the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government on Monday, 29 May 2017.

Public Sector Pensions Levy

 131. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his views on the basic inequity of plans to apply the public sector pension levy at a higher rate to the pensions of persons that retired before 2012 from January 2018; his plans to address this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26349/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe There is no levy on public service pensions. It is assumed that the Deputy's question is concerned with the Public Service Pension Reduction (PSPR).

PSPR was introduced on 1 January 2011 under terms set out in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2010.  It applies as a progressively structured decrease in the value of affected public service pensions. PSPR has been formed an  important element of the pay and pension measures under the financial emergency legislation which have been critical to the stabilisation of the public finances.

Following its introduction on 1 January 2011, PSPR originally applied only to those public service pensions with values above €12,000 which were already in payment or which were afterwards awarded in respect of retirements up to end-February 2012.

Later-awarded public service pensions, that is to say pensions awarded in respect of retirements after end-February 2012, only became liable to PRD from 1 July 2013, under terms set out in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013.

The PSPR burden on pensioners is now being significantly alleviated as provided for under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2015. This substantial part-reversal of PSPR, which is benefitting both pre- and post-2012 awarded pensions, is proceeding in three stages on 1 January 2016, 1 January 2017 and 1 January 2018. When complete in 2018, it will mean that most public service pensioners are not affected by PSPR.

The cost of this very substantial PSPR amelioration under FEMPI 2015 is estimated at about €90 million on a full-year basis from 2018.

PSPR has at all times had a greater impact, in terms of applicable exemption thresholds and reduction rates, on pensions awarded in respect of retirements before end-February 2012, by comparison with later retirements.  This difference in PSPR treatment is accounted for by the fact  that the later-awarded, post-February 2012, pensions are based on salary rates which have been affected by the public service pay cuts of 1 January 2010; earlier-awarded pensions, by contrast, are effectively based on higher salary rates, being rates which do not take these 2010 pay cuts into account.

Under section 12 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013, I as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform am required to review the necessity of the FEMPI legislation annually and cause a written report my findings to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas. The next report is due by end June 2017 and in the context of that report, I shall review the scope of the existing financial emergency measures and the possible further scale-back of those measures, including the PSPR.

Community Employment Schemes Supervisors

 132. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if his Department has produced costings in respect of extending pension entitlement to all community employment scheme supervisors and assistant supervisors; if he will provide details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26354/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Community Sector High Level Forum (or Working Group) (previously the Informal Forum) was convened in 2015 and 2016 to examine certain issues pertaining to the Community Employment sector having regard to the implications for costs and precedent.   The Forum continues to meet, most recently on 7th April last, to give consideration to the issues to which the Deputy refers. A costing's exercise is currently being progressed and should be completed later this year.

It does however continue to be the position that state organisations are not the employer of the particular employees concerned and that it is not possible for the State to provide funding for such a scheme. The employees in question are, or were, employees of private companies notwithstanding the fact that the companies concerned are, or were, reliant on State funding.  In considering the matter, regard must be had to the costs and the precedent of such an arrangement were one to be created.  Further detailed scoping work is required in this regard over the coming months and I look forward to being briefed on the outcome of that work in due course.

Public Sector Pay

 133. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the extent to which he expects to be able to maintain compliance with the Lansdowne Road Agreement or other pay agreements in the context of FEMPI, having particular regard to the need to reward those affected by the downturn in the economy in the course of the ongoing recovery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26364/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Public servants, are widely and correctly recognised as having made a particularly valuable contribution to the State’s economic recovery through reductions in remuneration which facilitated the necessary fiscal consolidation measures required to address the economic crises while providing stability, certainty and industrial peace. Thankfully, we are at a point where we can consider and negotiate on modest improvements to current public service pay and conditions, while also recognising that Government must continue to act prudently regarding the management of the national finances.

The initial Report of the Public Service Pay Commission was published on Tuesday, 9 May 2017. For its initial report the Commission was asked to provide input on how the unwinding of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest legislation should proceed having regard to:

- The evolution of pay trends in the public and private sectors, based on published data;

- A comparison of pay rates for identifiable groups within the public service with prevailing non-public sector market rates;

- International rates and comparisons where possible; and

- The state of the national finances.

The Commission was also asked to give consideration to other conditions of service of public servants, including tenure and pension, as well as recruitment and retention trends in the public service.

The findings of the Commission are contributing to and informing considerations in relation to Public Service remuneration by Public Service employers and staff interests in negotiations on an extension to the Lansdowne Road Agreement. These negotiations are currently underway and are being facilitated by the Workplace Relations Commission.  

The purpose of these discussions is to seek agreement with staff interests on an extension to the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA).  The discussions will also seek to secure and to provide a fair, balanced and sustainable response to the expectations of public servants in the area of pay on the one hand and an economy which is subject to ongoing financial constraints and a number of emerging international risks and challenges, not least of which is Brexit.

Infrastructure and Capital Investment Programme

 134. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if in the context of the growing needs of the recovering economy, he expects to be in a position to meet infrastructural requirements of the widest possible nature affecting economic performance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26365/17]

 143. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if an audit has been undertaken in respect of infrastructural requirements such as housing, water, roads and or sewerage treatment facilities requiring urgent investment with a view to determining the way in which such investment might be undertaken thereby facilitating the provision of vital infrastructure and economic progress notwithstanding compliance with public spending guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26375/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 134 and 143 together.

Assessment of sectoral infrastructure, and management of resource envelopes to address urgent priorities, is a matter for the relevant line Departments in the first instance.

The purpose of public spending guidelines, such as the Public Spending Code, is to support the process of directing available resources to the most efficient and effective solutions. 

The Capital Plan 'Building on Recovery: Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2016-2021' set out a €42 billion framework to address our priority infrastructure needs up to 2021.  Government has already committed to increase capital expenditure under the plan by €5.14 billion in the 2016 Summer Economic Statement (SES).

Increases in capital spend need to be sustainable, and at a level that the construction sector has the capacity to respond to with increased output.

The Capital Plan is now being reviewed to ensure that capital spending remains strictly aligned with national economic and social priorities.

Submissions in relation to the review, and the additional funding available for allocation, were sought from Departments in January and are currently under review by my Department.  Assessments and recommendations made by each Department will play an important role in ensuring that the additional funding is aligned with priorities in terms, for example, of overall economic and social returns from increased public capital investment.   

A public consultation process was also held in April to ascertain the views of the public and key stakeholders on what our national infrastructure priorities should be.  This consultation also sought views on infrastructure investment priorities beyond the period of the current Capital Plan, which will help formulate a longer term Capital Plan for the next 10 years.

The review by my Department of the submission received from Departments and from the public consultation process will be informed by a macro-economic assessment of the context for capital spending, to insure that appropriate public investment in infrastructure continues to support our economic and social progress, while an Infrastructure Capacity and Demand Analysis being carried out by the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service will also help inform my Department's assessment of the submissions.

Fiscal Policy

 135. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the degree to which each Department continues to maintain good practice in terms of expenditure in keeping with both the effects of the economic recession and the growing demands of the recovery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26366/17]

 136. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the extent to which he remains satisfied of being able to continue to meet the targets set by his Department in the context of spending and reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26367/17]

 137. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the degree to which each Department achieved the targets set by his Department in the course of the past six years; the extent to which this now becomes the basis for reward throughout; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26368/17]

 138. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the scope for reforms throughout the public and private sectors which may still have a role to play in economic performance in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26369/17]

 139. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the extent to which pay demands in the public and private sectors are likely to impact on the growing economy to a negative or positive extent in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26370/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 135 to 139, inclusive, together.

The effective management of expenditure was crucial in ensuring Ireland met or exceeded its key fiscal targets over the past number of years. This resulted in Ireland successfully leaving the EU-IMF Programme of Financial Support in December 2013 and exiting the Excessive Deficit Procedure at the end of 2015. Government Departments played a key role in ensuring that public services were delivered effectively during a period when significant fiscal consolidation was required to put the public finances on a sound footing.  

2015 marked the turning point where expenditure reductions were no longer required to meet our fiscal targets. An amount of €58.1 billion has been allocated to gross voted expenditure in 2017 bringing the annual average growth rate in expenditure to c.3 per cent over the period 2015 to 2017. The expenditure increases over this three year period have provided for additional spending on key public services and on social and economic infrastructure.

As the Government looks to continue with its policy of providing for prudent and sustainable increases in expenditure, once account is taken of calls on expenditure relating to demographics, the Public Capital Plan and the Lansdowne Road Agreement, there are limited resources remaining to address a variety of competing demands. In this context the Spending Review currently underway will support prudent fiscal management and assist with prioritising between policy initiatives to ensure resources are allocated to areas where they can have the greatest impact in terms of social and economic gain.

Looking at pay in the public and private sector, data released by the CSO recently highlighted modest growth in private sector average weekly earnings in the year to 2017.  The Government Expenditure Ceiling for 2018 includes a provision of €0.3 billion relating to pay commitments arising under the Lansdowne Road Agreement. As the Deputy will be aware, negotiations are currently taking place with the Public Service Unions on a successor to the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

On an ongoing basis, managing the delivery of public services within Budgetary allocations is a key responsibility of each Minister and their Department, and important measures are in place to help ensure that these budgetary targets continue to be met.  My Department is in regular communication with all Departments and Offices to ensure that expenditure is being managed within the overall fiscal parameters. The drawdown of funds from the Exchequer is monitored against the published expenditure profiles.  There is regular reporting to Government on these matters, and information is published monthly, as part of the Exchequer Statement. Gross voted expenditure of €17,849 million to end-April was €282 million (1.6%) below profile, with gross voted current expenditure €247 million (1.4%) below profile and gross voted capital expenditure €35 million (3.6%) below profile.

A new phase of public service reform, to cover the period 2017-2020, is currently being developed and last September I invited the members of the Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach to input to this process.  This new phase will place the customer's needs at the core of every decision from policy formulation to service design through to the service delivery. It will set out a series of actions to be delivered out to 2020 which will both build on the achievements of the last six years and respond to new challenges.

Brexit Issues

 140. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the degree to which his Department monitors the impact of Brexit on the public and private sectors with a view to addressing such issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26371/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Brexit issues in my Department are coordinated centrally by the Department's Brexit/EU/North South Unit.  The Unit oversees Brexit work across the Department and acts as the contact point with the Department of the Taoiseach and other Government Departments.  It is represented on the Inter-Departmental Group on Brexit and related groups, and supports me in my work as a member of the Cabinet Committee on Brexit.  Brexit issues are also addressed by staff in relevant areas across the Department.

Clearly Brexit will pose significant challenges right across the economy.  The Government is committed to addressing these challenges, to mitigating the impacts and to maximising the available opportunities.  The Government is using a highly consultative approach – through the All-Island Civic Dialogue Process and other stakeholder events – and this will continue as the process moves into the negotiations stage. 

In the short term, the Minister for Finance and I were able to deliver a Budget for 2017 setting out our approach to Brexit and to building a national economic response.  For the third year in succession it has been possible to increase resources for public services and infrastructure.  The gross voted expenditure allocation of €58.1 billion in 2017 will be over 3 per cent higher than the 2016 allocation.  Resources have been allocated towards areas that may be significantly impacted by Brexit, in particular enterprises dealing with the impact of Brexit and our regional and rural communities.

In the longer term, the design of this year's Spending Review reflects the changed economic and fiscal context, including Brexit.  Of course, while moderate and sustainable expenditure growth is planned over the medium-term, increasing and competing public service demands will mean managing expenditure will prove challenging.

The Capital Plan Building on Recovery sets out a €42 billion framework to address our priority infrastructure needs up to 2021.  Government has already committed to increase capital expenditure under the plan by €5.14 billion in the 2016 Summer Economic Statement (SES). This plan is now being reviewed to ensure that capital spending remains strictly aligned with national economic and social priorities, consistent with Programme for Partnership Government objectives.  This includes examining how available capital funds can continue to best be allocated to underpin sustainable medium-term economic growth and future growth potential, in light of recent developments since the Plan was published, including Brexit. 

As signalled with the recent publications of its position paper on Brexit, the Government is intensifying its focus on the economic implications of Brexit and will produce a further paper on the economic implications of the Brexit challenge.

Public Procurement Regulations

 141. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the extent to which public procurement procedures remain an asset or an obstacle in the context of economic recovery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26372/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Procurement reform is a key element of the Government's overall reform programme and is aimed at delivering increased value for money, more accurate and timely data and improvement in the capacity and capability of procurement across the public service.  The fragmented procurement arrangements across the public service facilitated amongst other things suppliers charging different public service bodies different prices for the same goods and services.  This was not sustainable, as the State could not afford to continue to purchase works, goods and services in a manner that undermines the efficient delivery of services.

The central procurement frameworks and contracts established by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) have been designed to optimise benefits including savings to the State through the strategic aggregation of its buying power.  Aggregation arrangements such as multi-supplier frameworks can, where appropriate, address local supplier issues.  

The reform of public procurement in Ireland is being carried out in a manner that recognises the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises in this country's economic recovery.  The aim is to drive fair, transparent and open competition in the marketplace but also to work with business to ensure that government procurement policies are business friendly

Given the budgetary pressures facing the public service, public procurement enabled savings can support the dual objectives of meeting our fiscal targets and of maintaining/improving services for the public. The strengthening of procurement professionalisation will in turn provide public bodies who use the contracts and frameworks with increased certainty and reduced risk by providing them with compliant sourcing solutions. 

The Government has committed in the Programme for Partnership Government to refining the new procurement structures in place and to make adjustments according to best international practice and in conjunction with Irish business. 

Public Sector Staff Recruitment

 142. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the full extent to date in 2017 of recruitment throughout the public sector in the context of economic recovery; the expectation in respect of future recruitment throughout the sector by the end of 2017 and thereafter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26373/17]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As the Deputy will be aware, in my role as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, I have overarching responsibility for workforce planning and recruitment to the Civil Service.

  In Budget 2015, it was announced that there will be a targeted programme of recruitment into the Civil Service to address service needs and a shortfall in key skills commencing in late 2014 and continuing.  The Deputy will be aware that a number of open competitions have already taken place or are in the process of taking for recruitment to the Civil Service.

   I understand from the Public Appointments Service, who are the independent recruiter for the civil service, that since then in the region of 4,900 civil servants, excluding temporary assignments and specialists, have been assigned to Government departments and offices across all general service grades from open competitions.

  In the Civil Service in 2017, an Assistant Principal Higher and an Executive Officer competition have been held by PAS and I understand no one has been taken from the panels to date. 

  These increases would of course be offset by people leaving the Civil Service including retirements.

Question No. 143 answered with Question No. 134.

Coastal Protection

 144. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the funding which will be made available to local authorities in 2017 to prepare comprehensive coastal protection studies; the number of individual projects nationwide this funding would cover; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26472/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Seán Canney): Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney The primary objective of Government policy on coastal protection is to ensure that in areas identified as being at greatest risk of damage or loss of economic assets through coastal erosion, appropriate and sustainable measures are identified by Local Authorities to protect those assets and, where such measures are economically justified on cost benefit grounds and compatible with all required environmental and other statutory requirements, they are implemented subject to the availability of resources.

  The OPW has surveyed and assessed the coastal erosion risk along the entire national coastline, as part of the Irish Coastal Protection Strategy Study (ICPSS), and this   information is published (on the OPW website) and available to all Local Authorities. This Study enables Local Authorities to develop appropriate plans and strategies for the sustainable management of the coastline in their counties, including the identification, prioritisation and, subject to the availability of resources, the implementation of coastal protection works both of a structural and non-structural nature.

  The Local Authorities may carry out coastal protection works using their own resources. If necessary, they may also put forward proposals to the relevant central Government Departments for funding of appropriate measures depending on the infrastructure or assets under threat.   

  Because intervention within a coastal area may cause problems further along the coast, any proposed intervention measures are best developed in conjunction with a formal coastal erosion risk management study that has carefully investigated the problem and explored the full range of management options.

  The OPW operates the Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme, under which applications for funding from local authorities are considered for measures costing up to €500,000 in each instance. Funding for coastal erosion risk management studies may also be applied for under this scheme. Funding of up to 90% of the cost is available for projects which meet the eligibility criteria including a requirement that the proposed measures are cost beneficial. The OPW has published guidelines for coastal erosion risk management measures and funding applications under the Minor Works Scheme, available on the OPW website. Any applications received will be considered in accordance with the overall availability of resources for flood risk management and the scheme's eligibility criteria available on the OPW website.

  It is not possible to say how much funding will be made available in 2017 under the Scheme for coastal protection studies or how many studies will be funded. To date in 2017 1 application has been received from local authorities for coastal erosion risk management studies seeking total funding of €30,000.

Drainage Schemes Status

 145. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if the OPW will liaise with a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26477/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Seán Canney): Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney I can assure the Deputy that the Office of Public Works will continue to engage with the landowner concerned for the duration of the maintenance works it is completing under the Arterial Drainage Acts 1945 and 1995.


Last Updated: 11/09/2018 13:23:16 First Page Previous Page Page of 68 Next Page Last Page