Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Seán Fleming has described the Public Service reform proposals published by Minister Brendan Howlin as the weakest document ever produced on this issue by a Government.
“The only really change in this document is that the Labour Party has agreed to an additional 12,000 job losses from the public sector. These cuts are not required by or specified in the agreement with the EU/IMF.
“These 12,000 additional job losses taken in conjunction with the 9,000 jobs lost as a result of the Capital Spending cuts announced last week show that this Government is only adding to the number of people out of work. You can’t solve an unemployment crisis by merely cutting jobs again and again.
“The biggest failure in this document is the complete lack of a plan to protect frontline services. No provision has been included to ensure that adequate staff numbers, such as nurses, are retained in key areas which should be prioritised under this plan.
“The proposal to have all new public service employees capped at a maximum of 32 days annual leave fails to deal with the issue of some top civil servants enjoying over two months holidays a year. Minister Howlin must act now to ensure no current public servant has over 30 days holiday a year.
“In relation to the Public Service Reform plans announced this afternoon the Government has rowed back on its commitment to reduce quangos. The document details 48 agencies that have already been rationalised and a further 46 are to be reviewed in 2012. In fact, the Government has gone out of its way to confirm that it will be setting up new quangos and the only concession to reform will be the inclusion of “sunset clauses” for these new quangos.
“On the issue of decentralisation, the Government has merely rehashed the list of 32 projects where permanent accommodation is completed or is due to be completed shortly, they also list the 22 projects that are underway and state that these will be reviewed. The 40 projects where no work had commenced since 2003 are not being proceeded with.
“I had high hopes that Minister Howlin would deliver serious public sector reform. This is not to be. Clearly officials in the new Department have captured the Minister and have won out on what was to have been a major plank of the Government’s agenda.”