A new Bill to be introduced by Fianna Fáil this week will tighten up public scrutiny of spending on major infrastructure projects. The Comptroller and Auditor General Amendment Bill 2017 mandates the C&AG to formally review the performance of key projects that reach certain spending levels to ensure taxpayers get value for money.
Over €42bn has been earmarked by the Government to be spent on capital projects from 2015-2021 and a new national development plan, due in the coming weeks, will set out a new multi-billion euro range of projects. However, there is little follow up on the delivery of such major projects.
Dara Calleary explained, “The upcoming development plan will commit billions of taxpayers’ money to a wide range of projects. However, after all the publicity dies down, we need to ensure the projects actually deliver. Recent international reviews of Ireland’s infrastructure have shown up weaknesses in how we review our spending.
“Despite government publicity over capital plans, in reality actual performance reviews have been lacking. We need more transparency in the way that public money is spent, to guarantee value for money, to ensure best practise is adhered to learn lessons from past experience. This Bill will help to achieve that.
“The Comptroller and Auditor General Amendment Bill 2017 will bring Ireland into line with international best practice standards. In South Korea, for example, a fundamental review is triggered if the costs of a project rise in real terms by more than 20%, or if forecast demand falls by more than 30%.
“Infrastructure has to be about more than ribbon cutting opportunities for Ministers. This Bill we are bringing forward will ensure that projects deliver on what they promised, and that there is accountability on the spending of public money”.