BYPASSING OF ESTIMATES PROCESS DENIGRATES DÁIL - HOWLIN

Issued 17 January 2017

The mystery surrounding the funding of accelerated pay restoration makes a mockery of the estimates process, according to Labour Party leader, Brendan Howlin, T.D.

"Responding to my questions in the Dáil today, the Taoiseach confirmed that accelerated pay restoration for public servants will cost in the region of €120m this year, in addition to the €50m cost of implementing the Labour Court recommendations in relation to pay for members of an Garda Síochána.

"However, his failure to explain how these measures will be funded makes a mockery of the estimates process.

"In our alternative Budget, we argued that a prudent approach would involve setting aside a sum to allow for some acceleration of pay restoration, allowing for the preservation of industrial peace in Ireland. The Government did not accept that approach, but have now announced additional spending that they did not budget for.

"It would seem that this acceleration of pay restoration now amounts to the earliest supplementary Budget in Irish history. Less than three weeks into 2017, the Budget for the year is undermined.

"In December of last year, the Dáil approved revised estimates for Government Departments, which provided for additional spending in 2016 of some €800m. This amount did not cover any changes to public sector pay beyond the Lansdowne Road Agreement, and nor did Budget 2017 as agreed by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

"There is little point in members of Dáil Éireann attending committee meetings to tease through Government spending estimates, if the Government is going to feel free to ignore the Budget and just spend what it wishes.

"It is high time that there was a proper successor to the Lansdowne Road Agreement put in place, that we all know the cost of, and that Dáil Éireann can vote upon. It is also time that this Government took on board other Labour proposals, including a structured social dialogue that gives public servants a say in investments in public services, and not just in pay."