Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure Seán Fleming has raised questions about just how seriously the members of the Cabinet are taking the new Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
Deputy Fleming commented, “I find it quite disturbing that after nearly six months since the Government took up office, the Minister responsible for overseeing public expenditure and reform appears to have little control over the spending of a number of Departments. It seems that his requests have either been pushed aside or long-fingered in a number of cases. This begs the question, are Minister Howlin’s Cabinet colleagues taking the new Department and its Minister seriously?
“Brendan Howlin’s Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has so far failed to make any meaningful contribution to reforming the public sector or addressing the real concerns of public sector workers. That’s despite the repeated promises made by the Minister since taking up the job in March. Minister Howlin has been relying heavily on rich rhetoric about ‘prioritising reform’, accelerating the Croke Park agreement, standardising public sector pay and conditions, and cutting public sector spending. But so far we have seen a whole lot of talk and absolutely no action.
“My real concern is that if Minister Howlin fails to take a decisive lead on this, he will find it extremely difficult to be taken seriously by his own Government colleagues as well by the public. The Government’s decision to split the Department of Finance into two Departments looks like it may backfire. Some may fear we will end up with two weaker Departments instead of one strong Department, resulting in weaker Government.”