Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath has said: “It is extremely disappointing that despite the government’s pronouncements on political and Dáil reform the budget process has not been substantially overhauled.  I think people will be quite surprised to hear that the Cabinet is only collectively considering the budget measures for the first time now, one week before it is to be delivered. 

“The fact that most of the budget preparatory work has been undertaken by the 4-person Economic Management Council is a cause for concern.  This management council is not the government and the government’s budgetary strategy must be underpinned by the principle of collective responsibility at Cabinet level.

“While each minister is responsible for their line department, cabinet members are also collectively responsible for the entirety of the budget package each year.  It is extremely important that the Economic Management Council is not used to usurp the constitutional role of cabinet and the cabinet simply turned into a forum that simply rubber-stamps the budget. 

“The fact that the cabinet is only meeting collectively now to discuss the budget proposals for 2013 shows there is a complete lack of trust at the heart of government.  Fine Gael and Labour Ministers were responsible for a host of proposals being leaked out to test the public mood in advance of the budget process and while there has been less of that this year there has still no genuine reform of the budget process. 

“With the budget less than a week away now every minister should be aware that they will not be allowed get away with saying they were not consulted on the contents of the spending and tax measures for next year.  Ministers are collectively responsible, must act collectively and will be held responsible for the budget in its entirety next week.”