Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Barry Cowen TD says fresh doubt has been cast over the affordability of the National Development Plan after Minister Donohoe confirmed in the Dáil that the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council (IFAC) was not consulted over growth forecasts.
Deputy Cowen said, “The growth projections for 2022 to 2027 assume a growth rate of 4 per cent a year. With an inflation rate of 2 per cent projected it is assumed the real growth rate for the six year period is 2 per cent.
“These growth forecasts underpin the €91bn committed by the Government to capital expenditure. While an increase in capital expenditure is to be welcomed it must be based on solid projections and assumptions that are independently verified.
“Typically for each budgetary cycle, growth projections calculated by the Department of Finance have to be assessed by the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council. While there is no legal obligation to refer the National Development Plan to the IFAC I find it alarming to say the least that they were not consulted whatsoever about such a large commitment.
“We in Fianna Fáil submitted a Freedom of Information request for any communication between the Government and IFAC in relation to the National Development Plan and it was startling to find out that not one meeting was held, not one letter, email or consultation was sent between the Government and the IFAC.
“It still remains unclear if the growth forecasts have taken Brexit into account for example. We have had reports from the ESRI and indeed the Department of Finance showing that Ireland’s economy could be hurt significantly following Brexit. The Copenhagen Report predicts that Ireland’s economy could be between 2.8 per cent and 4.3 per cent lower up to 2030.
“We need to know the commitments made under the National Development Plan are based on solid growth projections. The Government need to shed light on this fundamental part of the plan,” concluded Deputy Cowen.