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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 69-86
 Header Item Pension Provisions
 Header Item Government Construction Contracts Committee
 Header Item Cross-Border Projects
 Header Item Greenhouse Gas Emissions
 Header Item Flood Relief Schemes Funding
 Header Item Public Service Stability Agreement
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Office of Government Procurement
 Header Item Public Procurement Contracts
 Header Item Public Private Partnerships Data

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 91 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 69-86

Pension Provisions

 69. 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 in respect of outstanding pension restorations that resulted as a consequence of reduction in pensions during the economic crisis; when pension reductions in respect of public sector workers with pension of under €35,000, under €70,000 and above €70,000, respectively, will be restored in full; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9970/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As the Deputy is aware the unwinding of the emergency FEMPI legislation commenced with the Lansdowne Road Agreement 2016-2018 and will be mostly unwound under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018 -2020.

  The Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017, provides for further significant lessening of the impact of PSPR by way of threshold and rate changes to apply on 1 January 2019 and 1 January 2020. When fully in place from the beginning of 2020, these changes will mean that the vast majority of public service retirees, comprising everyone with occupational pension values up to at least €54,000, will be entirely free of PSPR.

  Application of PSPR in 2019

  Effective 1 January 2019, the legislated PSPR liability position is as follows:

  (i) Pensions awarded in respect of retirements up to end-February 2012:

  Only those pensions in this category which have a pre-PSPR value in excess of €39,000 are liable to PSPR in 2019. PSPR is imposed on such pensions by reference to the following:

  PSPR in 2019 (pre-March 2012 pensions)

  Annualised amount of public service pension - Reduction

  Up to €39,000 - Exempt

  Any amount over €39,000 but not over €60,000 - 12%

  Any amount over €60,000 but not over €100,000 - 17%

  Any amount over €100,000 - 28%

  (ii) Pensions awarded in respect of retirements from 1 March 2012 to 1 April 2019 (the expiry date of the FEMPI 2013 grace period):

  Only those pensions in this category which have a pre-PSPR value in excess of €60,000 are liable to PSPR in 2019. PSPR is imposed on such pensions by reference to the following:

  PSPR in 2019 (post-February 2012 pensions)

  Annualised amount of public service pension - Reduction

  Up to €60,000 - Exempt

  Any amount over €60,000 but not over €100,000 - 3%

  Any amount over €100,000 - 8%

  Application of PSPR from 2020

  Effective 1 January 2020, the legislated PSPR liability position is as follows:

  (i) Pensions awarded in respect of retirements up to end-February 2012:

  Only those pensions in this category which have a pre-PSPR value in excess of €54,000 are liable to PSPR from 1 January 2020. PSPR is imposed on such pensions by reference to the following:

  PSPR from 2020 (pre-March 2012 pensions)

  Annualised amount of public service pension - Reduction

  Up to €54,000 - Exempt

  Any amount over €54,000 but not over €60,000 - 12%

  Any amount over €60,000 but not over €100,000 - 17%

  Any amount over €100,000 - 28%

  (ii) Pensions awarded in respect of retirements from 1 March 2012 to 1 April 2019 (the expiry date of the FEMPI 2013 grace period):

  Only those pensions in this category which have a pre-PSPR value in excess of €60,000 are liable to PSPR from 1 January 2020. PSPR is imposed on such pensions by reference to the following:

  PSPR from 2020 (post-February 2012 pensions)

  Annualised amount of public service pension - Reduction

  Up to €60,000 - Exempt

  Any amount over €60,000 but not over €100,000 - 1%

  Any amount over €100,000 - 6%

  Ministerial order on PSPR to be issued by end-2020

  When the PSPR amelioration provisions in the 2017 Act as described above are fully in place from 1 January 2020, only a small number of public service pensions and new pension awards will remain affected by PSPR. Section 27 of the 2017 Act states that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will, no later than 31 December 2020, issue an order which will specify a date for the full removal of PSPR from that residual group of PSPR-affected pensions.

  The date so specified in the order will effectively be the date of complete abolition of PSPR.

Government Construction Contracts Committee

 70. 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 role of the Government Contracts Committee for Construction in derogations from standard forms of public contract; the person or body ultimately responsible for approving the public contract used by contracting authorities for capital projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [10632/19]

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 from 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 and has been availed of by a number of sanctioning authorities.

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. Whilst the GCCC will advise and comment on the proposed strategy 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.

The GCCC was established under Section 11 of Circular 40/02. It is a forum for the discussion and development of public policy in the tendering and contracting of all aspects of construction projects (apart from PPPs).

The OGP provides the functions of Chair and Secretariat to the GCCC. The membership of the GCCC includes representatives from the main capital spending bodies and departments with a significant involvement in public sector construction related activities.

Relevant departments and bodies nominate representatives with either technical or administrative backgrounds and these nominees may change from time to time. Special advisors/consultants or other guests may be invited to participate in the work of the Committee as may be required from time to time.

  Question No. 71 answered with Question No. 58.

Cross-Border Projects

 72. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the outcome of the most recent discussions his officials have had with their counterparts in Northern Ireland in relation to funding for cross-Border projects post-2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10562/19]

 80. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the outcome of the most recent discussions he has had with his British counterpart in relation to the funding of cross-Border projects post-2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10563/19]

 83. 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 if he has held discussions with the European Commission in relation to the possible allocation of additional funding for the Border region in view of the particular challenges that will arise in that area following Brexit and the need to improve infrastructure to assist existing businesses in remaining competitive; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [10342/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 72, 80 and 83 together.

  Ireland and the UK are currently partners in two EU-funded cross-border Cooperation Programmes – PEACE and INTERREG – with a total value of €550 million over the period 2014-2020.

  These programmes are 85% funded by the EU through the European Regional Development Fund under the European Union's Cohesion Policy.

  The two programmes are important drivers of regional development in a cross-border context.   Through EU-funded cooperation, a range of organisations, North and South, have engaged in and benefited from a variety of cross-border and cross-community projects.

  The Irish Government has been clear and consistent about its commitment to the successful implementation of the current PEACE and INTERREG programmes and to a successor programme post-2020, and my officials and I have been working to ensure that this important source of funding for the border region continues post-Brexit.

   As far back as December 2017 both the EU and UK undertook to honour their commitments to the current PEACE and INTERREG programmes and to examine favourably the possibilities for future programmes.

  I was pleased, therefore, that last May the European Commission responded to the Irish Government’s support for a future programme with a proposal for a special new PEACE PLUS programme that will build on and continue the work of PEACE and INTERREG.

  I welcome the inclusion in the draft Withdrawal Agreement of a commitment by both parties to the completion of the current programmes and to a future programme post-2020, a commitment that is carried through to the draft Political Declaration setting out the Framework for the Future Relationship between the EU and the UK.

  I also welcome the Commission's more recent proposal for a Regulation that will enable the current programmes to continue even in the event of no-deal.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

 73. Deputy Eamon Ryan Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the way in which he plans to apply a new revised cost of carbon in the National Development Plan 2018-2027; and the new analysis that will be carried out before the cost is agreed.  [10620/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Facing challenging and legally binding greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, it is imperative that the assessment of public investment projects include an appropriate valuation of the cost that society will bear in dealing with the increased greenhouse gas emissions a project might give rise to.

Under the National Mitigation Plan, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform committed to “undertake a review of guidance on public expenditure appraisal and evaluation to ensure their suitability to capturing key costs and benefits of climate measures”. In November 2018 my Department published a consultation paper on valuing greenhouse gas emissions in the public spending code, along with a review of the central technical appraisal parameters used in the Public Spending Code.

  The paper on valuing greenhouse gas emissions concluded that the model currently in use for pricing carbon in the Public Spending Code is outdated. It proposed a new methodology that values future greenhouse gas emissions according to a shadow price of carbon that is based on the estimated marginal cost that will be faced by society in achieving Ireland’s legally binding 2030 greenhouse gas emissions target.

  In practical terms, this means a new shadow price of carbon for non-ETS emissions of €32 per tonne in 2020, rising by €6.80 a year to reach €100 per tonne by 2030. Beyond 2030, it is proposed that the shadow price of carbon will simply rise by 5% a year. This means that the shadow price of carbon rises to €128 for 2035, €163 for 2040, €208 for 2045 and €265 for 2050.

  The consultation period has now concluded and my Department is in the final stages of evaluating the responses received. It is my intention to publish a decision paper detailing my Department's response to the views received and shortly thereafter to issue a circular revising the Public Spending Code to take account of the revised shadow price of carbon. This circular will also update other technical parameters, including a downward revision of the test discount rate from 5% to 4%.

  Collectively, these reforms will ensure that the Public Spending Code incorporates a more realistic appreciation of the climate consequences of all Government investment decisions. Once the circular is published the use of the revised values will be mandatory for all appraisals. This includes all appraisals of the projects detailed in Project Ireland 2040.

  Question No. 74 answered with Question No. 58.

Flood Relief Schemes Funding

 75. 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 if funds made available for minor flood works and coastal protection have been drawn down by Fingal County Council to tackle coastal erosion at the Burrow, Portrane. [10571/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am well aware of the coastal erosion at Portrane and I visited the area on the 18th October 2018 to view the commencement of the interim works. Local Authorities lead on identifying works to protect the coast in their respective areas and Fingal County Council are continuing to liaise with the OPW regarding a long term solution for the protection of Portrane.

  The interim works consist of three lines of “SeaBee” units, filled with stone, which were placed on the beach in November 2018 along a 270-metre stretch. I am advised by my office that funding of €456,464 has been approved to Fingal County Council under the OPW Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme for the works at this location. In November 2018, €365,171 was drawn down and on the 28th  February 2019 Fingal County Council submitted a further request to draw down the remainder of the approved funding.

  Question No. 76 answered with Question No. 62.

  Question No. 77 answered with Question No. 48.

  Question No. 78 answered with Question No. 53.

Public Service Stability Agreement

 79. 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 the consequences for trade unions that are not covered by the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, specifically the loss of increments and proposed pay rises for non-covered public servants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10621/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Sections 3 and 23 of the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 and Section 5 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act No. 2 of 2009 (as amended) provide, taken together, for accelerated payments only in respect of those public servants who have engaged with and are complying with the Public Service Pay Agreement 2018-2020. Public servants who are members of trade unions who have not signed up to or have chosen to resile from the Public Service Stability Agreement, become “non-covered public servants” as provided for in the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017.

   In summary terms, non-covered public servants do not benefit from the accelerated timetable set out in the Agreement for pay increases and are instead:

  - subject to a delay of nine months in each pay restoration/increase;

  - subject to freezing of incremental progression until end 2020;

  - subject to a less favourable regime in relation to additional superannuation contributions (ASC);

  - excluded from benefits arising from the reports of the Public Service Pay Commission and/or measures relating to new entrants.

  Question No. 80 answered with Question No. 72.

Departmental Funding

 81. 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 the policy regarding emergency funding for homes at immediate risk due to coastal erosion.  [10572/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Strategic policy responsibility for the coast, including coastal erosion, is a matter for the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. Local Authorities are responsible for the management of the coastline, including response to coastal erosion risk within their administrative areas.

My Office has responsibility for co-ordinating government policy on flood risk management for fluvial flooding and coastal protection, including where that coastal flooding arises from coastal erosion. In this regard, the OPW is leading a whole of Government response to flooding and is in the process of advancing its 10-year programme of investment in Flood Risk Management Plans which, inter alia,includes feasible solutions for mitigating flood risk for 90 coastal communities.

The OPW also operates the Minor Flood Mitigation Works & Coastal Protection Scheme. The purpose of this Scheme is to provide funding to Local Authorities to undertake minor flood mitigation works or studies to address localised flooding and coastal protection problems within their administrative areas. The Scheme generally applies where a solution can be readily identified and achieved in a short timeframe.

Under the Scheme, applications from Local Authorities are considered for projects that are estimated to cost not more than €750,000 in each instance. Funding of up to 90% of the cost is available for approved projects. Applications are assessed by the OPW having regard to the specific economic, social and environmental criteria of the scheme, including a cost benefit ratio.

When severe weather causes flooding on a widespread scale, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection may activate the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme. The scheme aims to provide financial support to people who have suffered damage to their home. It is designed to alleviate hardship rather than provide full compensation for damage.

Office of Government Procurement

 82. 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 the companies the public service can procure services from in the area of industrial relations and human resource support specifically for industrial relations investigations relating to disciplinary matters; and the costs of procuring these services since 2012. [10624/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Office of Government Procurement on behalf of the Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform carried out a competitive tender process for the establishment of a Framework Agreement for the provision of External Workplace Investigation Services (EWIS) available to central government departments and other public bodies. It is Government policy as set out in Circular 16/13 that public bodies, where possible, should make use of all such central procurement frameworks. In that context, public bodies may tender for such services themselves in circumstances where their needs are not met by these arrangements or where they can secure better value in the marketplace.

  The purpose of this particular framework agreement was to establish a panel of external professional investigators to conduct formal workplace investigation services. For Central Government bodies these services are required in accordance with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) "Dignity at Work" Policy, an Anti-Bullying, Harassment and Sexual Harassment Policy for the Irish Civil Service.

  This framework went live in March 2015.

  The framework suppliers are as follows:

  - Acrux Consulting Limited;

  - Collier Broderick Management Consultants and;

  - Raise A Concern Limited.

  The OGP facilitates competitions to these suppliers under this framework for both Central Government and non-Central Government. It acts in an advisory role in this respect but the individual public bodies are accountable and responsible for the mini-competitions and any subsequent contracts.

  The number of investigations undertaken by each company and the cost of each investigation is a matter for relevant Contracting Authority.

  Question No. 83 answered with Question No. 72.

  Question No. 84 answered with Question No. 62.

Public Procurement Contracts

 85. 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 his plans to review the public procurement process in view of the cost overruns at the national children’s hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10580/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform requires those charged with the delivery of public works projects to comply with the Public Spending Code and the Capital Works Management Framework (CWMF).

The Public Spending Code sets out the high level principles which apply in relation to project governance and, in particular, the procedures that must be followed by bodies with delegated sanction for capital expenditure. All projects are required to complete the review stages set out in the Code before sanction is given to go to tender. This process is undertaken between the sponsoring agency and the sanctioning authority.

A review of the Public Spending Code is currently underway in my Department. As elements of the review are completed, the associated updated guidance will be published. Work is ongoing on updating the requirements in relation to the different stages involved in the process of selection, appraisal, approval, and delivery of capital investment projects. This will be completed in Q1 2019.

The Capital Works Management Framework (CWMF) represents the tools that a public body must use to procure and manage the external resources necessary to deliver a public works project that is to be delivered under the Exchequer-funded element of the National Development Plan. The CWMF is managed by the Office of Government Procurement in consultation with the Government Contracts Committee for Construction.

The performance of a key component of the CWMF; the public works contract, was reviewed in 2014 and a series of recommendations that apply to the conditions of contract have been implemented since 2016. The OGP is shortly to commence on a more comprehensive review of the manner in which public works projects are procured in order to develop the next generation of the CWMF.

The review will incorporate consultation with industry and the public bodies charged with the delivery of public works projects on a broad range of issues such as risk management, information quality standards, managing price inflation and the adoption of digital technologies in project delivery.

Public Private Partnerships Data

 86. 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 number of procurement officials within the NTMA or across Departments charged with managing and overseeing public private partnership contracts; the average annual cost of salaries in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10634/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As I have no responsibility for assigning individual roles in other Departments I am unable to provide the Deputy with a breakdown of procurement officials or salary costs in that regard as it would be a matter for the individual Minister concerned.

  I have made enquiries from the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), which is designated as the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) when providing financial advice to State authorities undertaking major public investment projects and delivering Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects in sectors other than transport and the local authorities. Further information on the NDFA and its role, including its role in respect of PPPs, is available in the NTMA Annual Report and Accounts for 2017. This report is accessible at https://www.ntma.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/NTMA-Annual-Report-and-Accounts-2017.pdf and I would draw the Deputy’s attention to pages 28-31 in particular. As the Deputy will note from this report, NDFA staff are engaged across a wide-range of financial advisory, procurement, project delivery and contract management services linked to the NDFA’s role in advising on and procuring major infrastructure projects for the State.

  At the end of 2018, the NDFA had 61 staff at an approximate salary cost of €4.8m.


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