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 Header Item Written Answers
 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1-68
 Header Item Equality Proofing of Budgets
 Header Item Public Service Stability Agreement
 Header Item Departmental Budgets
 Header Item National Monuments
 Header Item Public Service Contracts
 Header Item Public Sector Pay
 Header Item Heritage Sites
 Header Item Customs and Excise Controls
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Capital Expenditure Programme
 Header Item Public Private Partnerships Cost
 Header Item Social Welfare Benefits Data
 Header Item Public Sector Pay
 Header Item Public Procurement Contracts
 Header Item National Children's Hospital Expenditure
 Header Item Flood Relief Schemes Funding

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 4

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Written Answers

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].

Written Answers Nos. 1-68

  Questions Nos. 1 to 17, inclusive, answered orally.

  Questions Nos. 18 to 38, inclusive, resubmitted.

  Questions Nos. 39 to 44, inclusive, answered orally.

Equality Proofing of Budgets

 45. Deputy Gino Kenny Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if consideration will be given to disability proofing the next budget and all budgets thereafter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7147/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Following a commitment in A Programme for a Partnership Government to ‘develop the process of budget and policy proofing as a means of advancing equality, reducing poverty and strengthening economic and social rights’ an Equality Budgeting pilot was implemented for the 2018 budgetary cycle. The approach I have taken in introducing Equality Budgeting is that equality budgeting is to be integrated into the existing budgetary process. Therefore, equality budgeting is contained within the existing performance budgeting framework and utilises the processes already in place.

The measures identified in the pilot related mainly to gender equality but as I outlined in my budget statement in October equality budgeting remains a priority for the coming year and I am therefore expanding the programme to further develop the gender budgeting elements, and to broaden its scope to other dimensions of equality including poverty, socioeconomic inequality and disability. This expansion is being supported by an Equality Budgeting Expert Advisory Group which brings expert knowledge on how best to progress this important work. This group is comprised of expert stakeholders such as the National Women’s Council of Ireland, IHREC, NESC, the ESRI and a number of Government Departments.

The Revised Estimates Volume 2019 (REV), published last December, includes performance information across all Government Departments. To provide greater visibility on the many areas of spend that specifically address inequality, the REV includes a reference guide that collates performance indicators that directly relate to areas of equality. These indicators are classified across nine themes taking into account the various Government strategies in place to guide policy development in the area of equality, including the National Disability Inclusion Strategy.

  Questions Nos. 46 to 53, inclusive, answered orally.

Public Service Stability Agreement

 54. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans to remove members of a union (details supplied) from the provisions of the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10623/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The provisions of the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 apply to those unions who have confirmed in writing to the Workplace Relations Commission that they agree to be bound by the terms of the agreement.

The union referenced by the Deputy, (INMO), has subscribed to the Public Service Stability Agreement and is currently considering a Labour Court Recommendation to resolve an industrial dispute. The Labour Court has stated that the proposed resolution to the matter is within the terms of the PSSA and there are no plans to take steps to exclude members of that union from the benefits of the PSSA.

The Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 provides for a range of benefits for those public servants who have accepted and comply with the terms of the PSSA including an accelerated and more advantageous phased series of pay increases up to October 2020 as part of the unwinding of FEMPI legislation. Separately, the PSSA also provides processes through the Public Service Pay Commission to address recruitment and retention issues in the public service and provision to address salary scale issues for "New Entrants" to the public service.

Departmental Budgets

 55. 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 has been alerted to potential budgetary overruns in respect of various Departments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10628/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Expenditure Report 2019 set out total gross voted expenditure of €66.6 billion for 2019. Of this, €59.3 billion is gross voted current expenditure, while €7.3 billion is gross voted capital expenditure. Ministerial allocations, as agreed by the Government, were set out in further detail in the Revised Estimates Volume (REV) published in December.

The effective and efficient delivery of public services within budgetary allocations is a key responsibility of each Minister and Department. In relation to spending, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is in regular contact with all other Departments and Offices to ensure that expenditure is being managed within the overall fiscal parameters. The drawdown of funds from the Exchequer is reported on each month against expenditure profiles in the Fiscal Monitor published by the Department of Finance.

At end-February, gross voted expenditure of €9,787 million was €141 million, or 1.4 per cent, below profile. In year-on-year terms, this is €725 million (8.0%) ahead on the same period in 2018. Gross Voted Current Expenditure of €9,286 million is €60 million, or 0.6 per cent, below profile and up by €660 million, or 7.6 per cent in year-on-year terms. Gross Voted Capital Expenditure of €501 million is €81 million, or 14 per cent, below profile and up by €66 million, or 15.1 per cent, year-on-year. At this stage of the year, 13 of the 17 Vote groups are on or below profile.

National Monuments

 56. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the status of improvement works at the Hill of Tara, County Meath. [10627/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Office of Public Works has responsibility for the management of the Hill of Tara National Monument site and operates a seasonal Guide service based at the former Church of Ireland building on the site. It also provides maintenance services and manages both Monument structures and the extensive acreage involved.

Tara is clearly an important historical site which is popular with many visitors, domestic and foreign and safeguarding it is, and will continue to be, a high priority for OPW. Currently, the focus of OPW is on performing the standard tasks required to maintain the Monuments and keep the site safe for visitors.

As the Deputy is no doubt aware, the various parties centrally involved at Tara are currently engaged in the final stages of preparing a new Conservation Management Plan for the site and its future direction will be clearly set out within that Plan when completed.

Public Service Contracts

 57. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans in relation to public contracts and low-balling firms as stated in Dáil Éireann on 12 February 2019.  [8037/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The period immediately following the introduction of the public works contracts in 2007 was marked by a severe contraction in construction output in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008. In addition to a number of high profile insolvencies tender, prices dropped by 30% as contractors competed to win the remaining work available.

In 2014 the performance of the public works contracts was reviewed and, given the challenging tender environment preceding the review, the issue of price and its impact on the award and performance of the contract was identified. The report published in 2014 set out a series of recommendations and specifically highlighted the need for much greater definition of a project’s requirements so that those tendering can adequately price the project and the contracting authority can properly evaluate the prices returned in the tender.

With the increase in activity in the construction sector in recent years, tender prices are recovering to a level that more realistically reflects current construction costs. Indeed inflation in the sector is well ahead of that in the economy generally. The challenge for Government in this context is to maintain a competitive tension in tenders to ensure that value for money is delivered for the taxpayer. This challenge should not be underestimated given the increased investment in the sector both in terms of the NDP but also private investment.

The measures that have already been introduced since 2016 to ensure contracting authorities have a better understanding of the price returned in a tender include:

1. The standing of the bill of quantities was increased for the traditional contract type. This measure increases the focus of the design team in preparing more comprehensive design information that can be accurately measured for pricing purposes. With a comprehensive price breakdown it is easier to establish where unsustainable rates may be applied.

2. A mechanism to directly tender specialist works was also introduced so that these critical work elements are priced directly by the specialist market thus reducing the extent of the contract sum for which the main contractor has overall price responsibility.

3. The greater use of the Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT) was also a recommendation in the report and while this measure does go some way to addressing the issue of low pricing, where a public body is dealing with a strong field of competent contractors their scores for quality will not vary significantly unless a targeted approach is taken with respect to the quality criteria, otherwise price will end up being the determinant.

These measures will be further enhanced by requirements for the adoption of Building Information Modelling once these are finalised by the Office of Government Procurement and implemented on a phased basis across the public capital programme.

In order to avail of the long standing provisions that are set down in the EU procurement directives for dealing with abnormally low tenders it is vital that projects are adequately defined so that a proper analysis of the constituent elements of the project can be undertaken. Ambiguity in the project requirements can easily result in a price that may adequately cover the tenderer's interpretation of the tender documents but that may not not necessarily align with the contracting authority's expectations.

Public Sector Pay

 58. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans to review public service pay in view of the recently agreed deal with nurses; his further plans to open pay negotiations with trade unions and other social partners; if so, when; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10640/19]

 71. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his views on the likely gross and net cost of the recent pay agreement with nurses; his plans to examine and review likely pay implications for other public sector workers and the wider economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10638/19]

 74. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the estimated cost in 2019 and 2020 of resolving the nurses' dispute; his plans to achieve pay equality in the health and education sectors in 2019 and 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [10483/19]

 165. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans to consult with public sector unions in respect of public pay negotiations; if the recent negotiations with nurses will have a knock-on implication for other employees in the Civil Service; if so, the likely implications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9969/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 58, 71, 74 and 165 together.

  The Labour Court decided to intervene in the nursing dispute due to the grave and extensive implications for our health services and patient safety.

  In making its decision the Labour Court acknowledged that "The Public Service employers made clear to the Court that any resolution of the within dispute must take place within the framework of the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA)" and that "the Trade Union has also made clear to the Court its acknowledgement that the resolution to the within dispute must be found within the framework of the PSSA".

  As such the Court stressed that in making its recommendation it had only considered possible solutions "in the context of the PSSA".

  It is important to note that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions were involved in the negotiations at the Labour Court and supported the Agreement on this basis. Accordingly, I have no plans to engage on public service pay negotiations outside the terms of the current agreement.

  Within the framework provided by the PSSA, the Labour Court has made a recommendation and the details of the recommendation will be subject to ballot by INMO members between the 11th and 25th of March. Subject to the outcome to current discussions on contractual matters related to the Labour Court Recommendation, other nursing unions (SIPTU & PNA) have also indicated they will undertake ballots of their members.

  The indicative estimates of the net additional costs associated with Labour Court Recommendation LCR 21900 are as follows:

  2019: €10m - €15m

  2020: €30m - €35m

  These estimates include the cost of the potential movement of staff to the new Enhanced Nursing Practice salary scale and other elements of the Recommendation such as the extension of the location/qualification allowance to medical and surgical areas, offset by Agency Savings and the re-configuration of the new entrant deal.

  These estimates are necessarily high level and indicative reflecting the fact that further detailed work is currently under way, as provided for under the Labour Court Recommendation, in relation to a new nursing contract and supporting verification mechanisms.

  On the 24th September last, agreement was reached with the Public Services Committee of ICTU on measures to address the new entrant pay issue.

  In general, the agreement provides for two separate interventions which will take place at point 4 and point 8 of pay scales. The practical effect of this is that for ‘new entrants’ the relevant points on the pay scale will be bypassed thereby reducing the time spent (by bypassing two increment points) on the scale for progression to the maximum point.

  The benefits under the measure are effective from 1 March 2019 and are restricted to Parties adhering to the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 excluding nurses, who will benefit from measures that form part of the Labour Court Recommendation.

Heritage Sites

 59. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans for the Brú na Bóinne visitor centre, County Meath. [10626/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Brú na Bóinne complex is one of Ireland's major visitor attractions and one of two UNESCO World Heritage sites in the State. The investment at Brú na Bóinne, supported by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Fáilte Ireland Capital Grants Programme, includes improvements in three separate areas: at the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre, at Knowth Monument and at the core Newgrange Monument itself.

The Visitor Centre acts as the admission point to Newgrange and Knowth and as a management hub for a range of nearby monuments, providing information and interpretation of these important sites. The Centre was built and the existing exhibition installed in the mid 1990's so it is timely at this stage, over 20 years after its inception, to review the exhibition and modernise it so that it provides added value to visitors and provides them with a more interactive, dynamic and engaging experience. In tandem, the fabric of the building, which is considerably dated at this point, is being substantially refurbished and updated.

The new facilities at Knowth celebrate the megalithic art at the site and will be open to visitors during the coming season. The state of the art exhibition currently being developed at the Knowth Farm buildings will explore how the art was produced as well as its significance and will for the first time allow visitors to experience in virtual reality the interior of one of the great tombs at Knowth. Traditionally, Knowth has only been open to the public from the end of March to the beginning of November for conservation reasons. The development at Knowth means that the site will be open to the public for much longer, leading ultimately to a year-round visitor offering at the site.

The project at Newgrange Monument will focus on bringing the former Tourist Office at the site back into use together with changes to traffic management and landscaping. This work is currently subject to a Planning Application to Meath Co. Council. Improved interpretation at Newgrange itself will allow us to change the way in which we present the site to the public and aid the better management of visitor volumes. Following completion of this project more visitors will be offered the chance to enjoy the site and the exterior of the tomb with entry to the tomb being treated as a ‘premium’ experience. The net effect will be to sustainably increase the overall number of visitors who experience the Newgrange site.

I am satisfied that once all of these proposed projects have been completed, we will not only deliver a state-of-the-art entry point to the World Heritage site via Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre but will also facilitate a sustainable increase in visitor numbers to the entire archaeological zone encompassed by the World Heritage Site.

Customs and Excise Controls

 60. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe when the detailed action plan on the requirements of Rosslare Europort in advance of Brexit is due for publication and-or finalisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10213/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe While ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement is still the Government's priority, we will continue our preparations for all scenarios. On 11 December 2018, the Government decided to give greater immediate priority to the preparations for a no deal Brexit. This work is ongoing and includes all Government Departments and Agencies. It includes measures both nationally and in conjunction with the EU.

In a no deal scenario, goods entering the EU from the UK would be treated as imports from a third country and goods leaving the EU to the UK will be treated as exports. All relevant EU legislation on imported goods and exported goods would apply, including the levy of certain duties and taxes, in accordance with EU commitments and under the rules of the World Trade Organisation. Relevant customs declarations would be needed, and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls would need to be applied. Additional staff have been recruited for our ports and airports, and ICT systems have been enhanced to support this work.

The Government is committed to working with the European Commission and our EU partners to ensure that any potential disruption to connectivity as a result of necessary additional checks and controls is kept to a minimum. At the same time, Ireland is committed to protecting the integrity of the Single Market and Customs Union, membership of which is a core element of our economic strategy and has been good for Irish business.

Further to agreement by Government, OPW, working with key stakeholders, are now progressing arrangements for new customs, health and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) requirements at ports and airports. Preparatory works are ongoing in four separate locations in Rosslare to provide facilities infrastructure for staff carrying out customs, SPS and health checks in the event of a no deal Brexit. A new export facility is being delivered within the Port and the development of new import inspection facilities will commence in the coming days.

Departmental Expenditure

 61. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if a review has been carried out into monitoring systems for capital and current expenditure across Government in which there has also been a review of his Department’s invigilation of these expenditures; the changes in procedure following such reviews; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [10484/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Managing the delivery of public services within allocations and meeting our budgetary targets forms a key part of the responsibilities of every Minister and Department. My own Department is in regular contact with all other Departments and Offices to ensure that expenditure is being managed within the overall fiscal parameters.

Monthly expenditure profiles for each Government Department for 2019 were recently published and included in the February Fiscal Monitor. The drawdown of funds from the Exchequer is monitored throughout the year and reported on against profile on a monthly basis in the Fiscal Monitor published by the Department of Finance.

A public investment management assessment (PIMA) mission to Ireland was undertaken by the IMF in July 2017, which assessed our management of public capital resources compared with what would be expected in an advanced economy. Its final report was published on my Department's website on 10 November 2017.

The PIMA report concluded that, overall, Ireland manages its public infrastructure relatively well.

It highlights both strengths and weaknesses and contains a number of recommendations to improve future performance in terms of the efficiency of public capital investment. The national development plan, published in February 2018, sets out planned improvements for the management of capital spend, drawing in particular on the 2017 PIMA report.

A number of reforms were implemented in 2018 based on the PIMA recommendations in order to ensure the efficient, coordinated and timely implementation of Project Ireland 2040. In particular, an Investment Projects and Programmes Office (IPPO) has been established in the Department to support the implementation of the National Development Plan 2018-2027 and drive strengthened business case and project appraisal. In this context, and in the context of the ongoing rollout and delivery of Project Ireland 2040, my Department is also conducting a review of the provisions of the Public Spending Code, with a view to underpinning the focus upon value-for-money across all Departments and Offices in the appraisal, management and delivery of capital investment projects.

Capital Expenditure Programme

 62. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe when he expects capital projects in County Kildare under Project Ireland 2040 to be progressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10614/19]

 76. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the levels of capital expenditure that will be allocated for infrastructure projects for County Donegal; the timeframe for these allocations; the projects for which funding will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [10343/19]

 84. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the position regarding the timing of major capital projects in County Kildare under Project Ireland 2040; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10613/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 62, 76 and 84 together.

  In my role as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform I am responsible for setting the overall capital allocations across Departments and for monitoring monthly expenditure at a Departmental level. Decisions on how and where those allocations are invested by Departments are a matter, in the first instance, for my Ministerial colleagues. The key role in leading development at county level rests with the relevant local authority.

  However, my Department publishes a major capital projects tracker on the website of the Department, which sets out details of the key projects and programmes being implemented under the NDP, including the location of the projects where possible. The tracker currently focuses on projects and programmes with a value of greater than €20 million. Therefore, while it does not provide an exhaustive list of all capital expenditure, the list of projects serves to highlight the diverse range of infrastructural demands competing for the resources of the State.

  The tracker can be found at the following URL:

   https://www.per.gov.ie/en/investment-projects-and-programmes-tracker/

  It is currently possible to search the project tracker by location and, for example, obtain a list of the projects on the tracker that are being delivered in a particular county. However, my Department is currently developing a mapping function for projects on the capital tracker in consultation with Ordnance Survey Ireland. This function will be available shortly and will make it easier to locate projects being delivered in a particular location, which will be an important step in increasing public awareness of the projects being delivered under Project Ireland 2040 and the National Development Plan 2018-2027.

Public Private Partnerships Cost

 63. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the annual cost of public private partnerships through unitary payments; and the reason total unitary payments are greater than the contractual value of projects. [10633/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe A breakdown of the annual cost of unitary payments by individual project can be found on the PPP website. The cost of unitary payments for 2018 is in the region of €260 million.

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are partnerships between the public and private sectors for the purpose of delivering a project or service. Some of the advantages associated with PPPs are that they allow the public sector to avail of private sector expertise and innovation and the private partner assumes responsibility for a considerable portion of the risk.

The contracts tend to be long-term arrangements, typically spanning 25 years or more, and can be Design-Build-Finance-Maintain (DBFM), Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Maintain (DBFOM) and Concession projects.

Design-Build-Finance-Maintain (DBFM): DBFM projects require the PPP Co to provide and maintain the asset/infrastructure but not to operate it. This is likely to be used to provide schools and similar infrastructure; in such cases the public sector will want use of the asset but will not require that the private partner provide the attendant service, i.e. in the case of a school, the public sector or the relevant patron would employ the teaching staff.

Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Maintain (DBFOM): DBFOM PPPs effectively require the private sector to replace the public sector for the duration of the contract. These PPPs require the private sector to both provide and operate the asset/infrastructure. In the case of a water treatment plant, for example, this would require the private sector to staff the plant to ensure service delivery on behalf of the public sector contractor.

Concessions: Concessions differ from other PPPs in how they provide a financial return to the private sector. Unlike other PPPs the private sector achieves its financial return by levying a user charge on the service. In Ireland, concessions have been used to a large extent in the transport sector.

The capital cost consists of all the costs (including VAT) associated with the construction or acquisition of the physical assets to the point of it becoming available for use. The public sector provides annual unitary payments to the private sector for a contractually agreed period of time. These unitary payments typically comprise one or more of the following elements – usage payments, availability payments and service performance payments.

Hence, unitary payments cover more than the construction cost of the asset. They comprise the full availability payments entailed to deliver the required service level.

Social Welfare Benefits Data

 64. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if he has received costed proposals from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in relation to the indexation of social welfare allowances and benefits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10485/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Indexation of social welfare allowances and benefits is a matter in the first instance for my colleague, the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Public Sector Pay

 65. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the efforts that have been made to incorporate retired public servants into the wider public pay discussions; if there are legislative reasons trade unions cannot represent retired public servants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10567/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As I informed the Deputy in my response to his written question of 27 November 2018 (PQ Ref: 49185/18), there is no formal mechanism to include recipients of public service pensions within the industrial relations framework and pay determination processes in the public service, and I understand that under employment and trade union law, trade unions can only represent workers in employment in negotiations on pay and conditions.

However, I can assure the Deputy that the interests and concerns of public service pensioners have been regularly articulated in meetings between the Alliance of Retired Public Servants, myself and my Department, including at a meeting between the Alliance and officials from my Department which took place last Thursday 28th February. Through this process of engagement, I believe that public service pensioners have had, and continue to be afforded, a meaningful and direct means of articulating their concerns in relation to pensions and related issues.

I would again emphasise that over the past number of years there have been notable pension improvements for many public service pensioners.

First, pensions in payment are benefiting significantly from the substantial reversal of the cuts to public service pensions above specified thresholds which were originally imposed by way of the Public Service Pension Reduction (PSPR) under the FEMPI legislation.

Second, as part of the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018 – 2020, the Government agreed a time-limited, conditions bound, return to the non-statutory, pay-linked method of pension adjustment which prevailed until the onset of the financial emergency. To that end, in January last year, my Department issued a Circular authorising pension increases to qualifying public service pensions on foot of the pay increases covering the 2018 to 2020 period under the PSSA, as legislated for in the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017.

In conclusion, both I and my Department are fully committed to maintaining the well-established dialogue with the Alliance of Retired Public Servants. Through ongoing recourse to that dialogue process, I believe that retired public servants and their representatives can be confident that their pension concerns will receive full and proper consideration, as they have done in the past.

Public Procurement Contracts

 66. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the consideration given to using a remeasurable contract in the decision making process in selecting a fixed price contract under the contract works management framework in relation to the national children’s hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10615/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Department of Finance Circular 33/06 requires all public works projects that are delivered under the Exchequer-funded element of the Government's capital plan to be procured in accordance with the provisions laid down in the Capital Works Management Framework (CWMF). The CWMF is an integrated set of contractual provisions, guidance material, technical templates and procedures which cover all aspects of the delivery process of a public works project from inception to final project delivery and review to assist contracting authorities in meeting their ongoing procurement requirements. The public works contract is a key component of the CWMF and is a lump sum, fixed-price contract which is to be used on all public works projects.

Section 7 of Circular 33/06 provides for a derogation from the use of the standard forms of contract by means of an application to the Government Contracts Committee for Construction (GCCC). This process may be used for complex or large projects which have specific requirements which do not naturally fit with the standard lump sum contracts.

The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) commenced their formal engagement with the GCCC in May 2014 with a view to securing a derogation from the requirement to use the standard lump sum, fixed-price public works contract. The GCCC supported the principle of the procurement and contracting strategy proposed by the NPHDB on the basis of the risk presented by a project of this scale and complexity and the programme set for the opening of the hospital.

It is important to note that a derogation, if agreed, does not approve the approach or strategy of the contracting authority, but simply acknowledges that the circumstances are such as to warrant a different approach than the standard. It is a matter for the contracting authority and the sanctioning authority to satisfy themselves as to the adequacy of the approach with regards to compliance with procurement rules and project appraisal in accordance with the Public Spending Code. Accountability for the procurement strategy rests with the contracting authority.

The response provided by my colleague the Minister for Health, Simon Harris T.D. to a similar question posed by the Deputy (PQ 109, 27/2/19 refers) sets out the procurement and contracting strategy that was undertaken by the NPHDB.

National Children's Hospital Expenditure

 67. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans to review the cost overrun of the national children’s hospital project; his further plans to conduct an evaluation of the oversight role of his Department for major construction projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [10635/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe On the 12th of February, I published how the €99m necessary this year for the timely provision of the National Children’s Hospital will be accommodated with a minimum of disruption to the scheduled rollout of key infrastructure projects under Project Ireland 2040. I also detailed reforms designed to ensure world class project management across the whole of Government.

I have also outlined the progress made delivering projects on time and on budget but it is clear that the experience of the National Children’s Hospital must be drawn upon, and lessons learned, to ensure that this type of cost overrun is avoided in future and that our project management procedures keep pace with international best practices. Reforms to public procurement processes, and to the Public Spending Code, which were put in train in the context of Project Ireland 2040 are accordingly being stepped up and accelerated.

Flood Relief Schemes Funding

 68. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if funding will be removed from the flood relief scheme planned for Buncrana, County Donegal, due to the reprofiling of investment under the flood risk management programme of the OPW to defer €3 million towards the cost overrun at the new national children’s hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9751/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran): Information on Kevin Boxer Moran Zoom on Kevin Boxer Moran In May 2018 I launched 29 Flood Risk Management Plans for all the main river basins identifying a total of 118 flood relief projects to protect the main flood risk areas throughout the country. These Plans and projects are a key part of the overall flood risk management strategy set out in the National Development Plan 2017 - 2028 involving total investment of almost €1 billion over the ten year time frame of that Plan. As it is not possible to implement all of the 118 projects at the one time, a total of 50 projects were prioritised for the initial tranche of investment and delivery based on the level of risk and number of properties to be protected.

Fifteen flood relief projects have been identified for County Donegal arising from the completion of the Plans. Following consultation and discussions between the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Donegal County Council (DCC), six of the Donegal projects have been identified to be progressed in the first phase of implementation. A joint OPW and DCC Steering Group has been established to advance these projects and plans are currently being put together to appoint consultants over the coming months for these projects.

The proposed project at Buncrana and Luddan, Co. Donegal, at an estimated cost of €3.3m, consists of a series of sea walls, flood embankments and flood walls, which will provide flood protection to approximately 32 properties when completed. The proposed project is not in the first phase of projects to be progressed, but I can assure you that the OPW and Donegal County Council will work closely to ensure that it will be commenced as soon as possible in the coming years and within the 10 year timeframe for the programme of investment.

Arising from the Government decision of Tuesday, 12 February 2019 in relation to capital reallocations , the OPW is reviewing the most appropriate means of achieving the required capital savings of €3 million in the flood risk management area. Expenditure on any particular project or programme in any year is dependent on many variables related to the progress of the project and programme. I can assure the Deputy that all capital projects committed to will be delivered and I do not foresee any major impacts on the progression of the project in question in due course.


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