Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
86. Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Finance the latest returns he has received in respect of progress in the expenditure profile and the profile in delivery of planned outputs from the various sub-programmes within the National Development Plan 2000 to 2006; and if he will publish a review of the performance of that plan. [39133/06]
216. Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance the progress made under the current National Development Plan; the lessons to be learned for future development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39350/06]
The National Development Plan/Community Support Framework (NDP/ CSF) 2000-2006 was an integrated investment plan and strategy for economic and social development for Ireland. The objectives are to ensure that Ireland maintained its international competitiveness and that our economic success would be shared more equally at regional level and throughout our society. The Plan was developed following an extensive consultation process that included the Social Partners and regional interests and, therefore, reflected the broad consensus on the future development needs of the country. The size and ambition of the Plan signalled an unparalleled commitment of €57 billion of Public, Private and EU funds over the programme period, which under EU Rules continues to 2008. It has involved significant investment in infrastructure — such as roads, public transport, water and waste services — in health services, social housing, education, industry and rural development. The Plan is delivered through seven Operational Programmes. These Operational Programmes are the Economic and Social Infrastructure Operational Programme, the Productive Sector Operational Programme, the Employment and Human Resources Operational Programme, the Border, Midlands and West (BMW) Regional Operational Programme, the Southern and Eastern (S&E) Regional Operational Programme, the PEACE II Operational Programme; and the Technical Assistance Operational Programme.
Based on the most recent expenditure information available, €48bn had been spent by the end of June 2006. This is a healthy implementation rate in view of the slow start up in some areas at the beginning of the programme and the relatively disappointing response in certain demand led schemes due mainly to the impact of the slowdown in economic activity in 2000-02, the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, a lower than anticipated take up of financial opportunities by the private sector. The information also indicates that while the overall outturn is expected to be close to the original forecast by the end of the programming period, there will be broadly offsetting variances as compared to the original forecasts at individual Operational Programme level. However, the final Exchequer and EU commitment is expected to be ahead of the original forecast and, on current expectations, this will largely cover a lower than expected take-up from the private sector.
Progress reports to the end of June 2006 for the Operational Programmes will be reviewed by the NDP/CSF Monitoring Committee, which my Department chairs, when it meets next month. However, initial indications show that physical progress on the infrastructure and the employment and human resource programmes are on target and good progress is evident in the regional programmes. While financial performance in the Productive Sector programme remains behind target, physical progress is closer to targets.
The mid-term evaluation of the NDP/CSF 2000-2006, carried out by the ESRI, stated that the “NDP has made significant progress towards its objectives of continuing sustainable national economic and employment growth and of consolidating and improving Ireland’s economic competitiveness” and “will have a sustainable positive effect on competitiveness and the productive capacity of the economy in the long-term”. The report said that the level of GNP will be around 3% higher in the long run which represents a real rate of return on NDP investment of around 14%.
Furthermore, in its ex-ante evaluation of investment priorities for the next NDP 2007-2013, the ESRI states that, “The current NDP has greatly enhanced the economic and social infrastructure of the State with major benefits to economic development throughout all regions”.
Lessons have been learned and taken on board. To improve the planning and execution of infrastructure projects, my Department has introduced a number of initiatives. These include the strengthening of cost estimation and control systems and advancement of procurement policy and practice with the objective of completing projects on time and within budget. The latest Value for Money measures and the Government’s proposals for Estimates and Budget Reform build on initiatives in recent years such as the multi-annual budgets for capital programmes, the revised Guidelines for the Appraisal and Management of Capital Expenditure Proposals of February 2005 and construction procurement reform. These are part of a concerted effort to improve public expenditure management and to maximise value for money from public expenditure.
The preparation of a new NDP for 2007-2013 will build on the achievements already taking place under the current Plan and is being finalised. This will include a concise review of the achievements under the NDP 2000-2006.
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