Howlin must account for €1.2bn budget blunder – Fleming

Published on: 05 December 2014

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has utterly failed in its primary function to control public spending and deliver realistic budgets, according to Fianna Fáil Public Expenditure spokesperson Sean Fleming.

Deputy Fleming was responding to the full scale of supplementary budgets needed across nine government departments for the remainder of the year, totalling €1,184,073,000, the largest supplementary estimate in the history of the State.

Deputy Fleming said: “The basic function of Department of Public Expenditure and Minister Brendan Howlin is to manage government spending and budgets. The scale of the additional cash needed to see the nine departments through to the end of the year reveals an outright failure on the part of the Minister.

“The health budget bailout of €680m is the largest ever recorded in the health service. In fact the department which was set up to control expenditure has presided over the two largest supplementary estimates recorded in the history of the State, in 2012 and 2014. This is a direct reflection of Minister Howlin’s incompetence.

“In response to Budget 2014, outlined by Minister Howlin in October 2013, Fianna Fáil pointed out that the Government’s cuts were unfair and regressive. Over 60% of the adjustment was implemented through spending cuts and by contrast Fianna Fáil advocated a 50-50 mix in expenditure and taxation measures.

“The contrast between Michael Noonan’s realistic approach in Finance and Brendan Howlin’s focus on PR, spin and message management has left his department where is it today. Minister Howlin consistently oversells his spending plans and ultimately fails to deliver.

“I believe Minister Howlin’s flawed and deliberately misleading expenditure plans have undermined confidence in the Government’s spending projections for next year and have raised questions over the suitability of his own department in measuring and overseeing these estimates.”

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