Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
75. Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on each of the recommendations made in the report of the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes that relate to his Department and agencies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37462/10]
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Deputy John Gormley): The Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes was published in July 2009 and, since then, its recommendations have provided an important input to Government and Ministerial consideration of options for expenditure reduction. As far as my own Department is concerned, expenditure provisions for 2010 are set out in the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2010 published by the Minister for Finance. These amount to €2.195 billion, compared to an outturn of €2.674 billion in 2009. They were determined in the context of the overall provision for public services, reflect the need to reduce public spending and, as indicated by the Minister for Finance in his Financial Statement on 9 December 2009, were guided by the Report.
My Department, local authorities and related agencies are working to maximise outputs from the 2010 provisions through prioritisation, increased efficiency and lower procurement costs generally. Recommendations in the Report relating to my Department are reflected, inter alia , in savings in administrative costs arising from reductions in public service numbers and pay; the reduced Exchequer contribution to the Local Government Fund (€226 million in 2010, in the context of wider developments relating to local government finance); the review of the EPA which is underway; the ongoing rationalisation of agencies in the housing area; and more extensive use of leasing to ensure overall housing output is maintained at the highest level possible. The Report will continue to be taken into account in the development of policy and the management of programmes by my Department. Consistent with the approach of the Special Group, the Report of the Local Government Efficiency Review Group , published in mid-July, includes recommendations for efficiency and other savings in the local government sector. These will be considered by Government in the appropriate policy and financial contexts. I propose to establish an implementation group with an independent chairperson to oversee implementation of relevant recommendations.
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