The Curtains are Up – Pre-Budget Meetings

Issued 22 September 2014

In little over 3 short weeks, on 14 October 2014, the Budget and Expenditure Report for 2015 will be delivered by Michael Noonan and myself.

Preparations for this day began almost as soon as we concluded work on Budget 2014 and involve many civil servants from my own Department, the Department of Finance and each and every other Government Department and Office with which we engage. These officials range from staff at Secretary General level attending bilateral meetings with their counterpart in my own Department to the staff within the Print Room here, deep in the heart of Government Buildings who work uncomplainingly through the night, churning out the “two books” ready for issue to the Dáil Chamber in the small hours before Budget Day itself.

Many, many meetings take place in the weeks and months in the run-up to Budget Day, but not all of these are between Ministers, officials and the like.

This week, Michael and I held a number of pre-budget meetings with a variety of industry and sector representative groups including the IFA, ICMSA, ICTU, CVSP, IBEC and the CIF.

The meetings were short and focussed and had two purposes. Firstly they allow representative organisations to take the concerns of their members in a budget context and to engage in dialogue with the two Ministers drafting the Budget about those concerns and how solutions might be formed in the context of the upcoming Budget.

Secondly and from my perspective, such a gathering allows me to give context to the present set of circumstances within which I am constructing the Expenditure Report, to re-state the disciplined fiscal restraint I am required to maintain and to give reassurances where I can about direction being taken.

I consider these pre-Budget Meetings to be a valuable and vital part of the Budget preparations, as I know, does Michael.

Brendan Howlin TD, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform