C&AG Report shows Howlin’s failure to control wasteful spending – Fleming

Published on: 27 September 2012

Fianna Fáil member of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee Seán Fleming TD has said the new Department of Public Expenditure and Reform “has failed to achieve any significant results after its first year in operation.”

The findings of The Report on the Accounts of the Public Services 2011 published today by the Comptroller and Auditor General shows that the new department, presided over by Minister Brendan Howlin “may as well not have existed as it did not control public spending or achieve any real reform.”

Deputy Fleming said: “I am outlining just a few of the many shortcomings highlighted in the C&AG’s report on public expenditure:

1.    Various government departments delivered harsh and unnecessary cuts in 2011 while at the same time they handed back unspent money to the department of finance instead of providing desperately needed frontline services to the public.  €701m was handed back to the Department of Finance by other departments and it is shocking to think that despite the need for funds for services that six departments returned funds as follows: (detailed on page 177 C&AG report)

Agriculture €255m

Social Protection €110m

Health €63m

Education €31m

Jobs & Enterprise €38m

Environment €26m

Children €12m


2.   Government departments awarded contracts without competition in 555 cases with a total contract expenditure of €266m.  This represents a 237% increase on the 2010 figure of €79m. (detailed on page 182, C&AG report)

3.   The Broadcasting Authority is severely criticised in Chapter 20 of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Report.  61% of all applications for funding for TV and Radio projects in 2011 were rejected.  The BAI needs to have a more transparent application process to assist applicants in dealing with the organisation and therefore reduce unnecessary costs on the BAI and the applicants themselves. (detailed on page 264, C&AG report)

4.  There has been a major increase in the percentage of properties, inspected by local authorities, that did not meet the required standards – up to 37% in 2011 compared with 25% in 2010.  These are properties where landlords registered with the Private Residential Tenancies Board and the inspections were to be carried out on behalf of the PRTB by local authorities.  The percentage of properties inspected fell to 6% in 2011 down from 8% in 2010.  Clearly where standards have been found to be in decline there is a need for a greater level of inspection, not less.  It must be noted that the registration fees are paying for these inspections which are not being carried out. (detailed on page 329, C&AG report)

Deputy Fleming concluded: “There are clear failings highlighted in the C&AG’s report today in the management of scarce government resources provided by taxpayers.  It is not acceptable at a time when the public is expected to endure further attacks on frontline services while Ministers continue to preside over waste and inefficient use of taxpayers’ money.”

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