Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform, Barry Cowen has expressed concern at the lack of clarity over the Government’s capital investment priorities for next year.
Commenting, Deputy Cowen said, “On an almost daily basis we are hearing from Government about capital investment and their ten year plan. We are constantly told about the extra schools, hospitals and roads that will be built over the next ten years. We hear that we will have a state of the art broadband system and new Luas lines.
“However, when I ask about the specific priorities for next year, nobody in Government can give me a coherent response. The people are entitled to know for example what the top ten priorities are for 2019 from this Government. The National Development Plan was announced back in February yet nearly six months later we are no closer to knowing what projects will receive funding next year.
“On two occasions before the summer recess I asked Minister Donohoe for a detailed breakdown of the projects receiving the €1.5 billion in extra spending next year. On both occasions he agreed to provide this. Yet we are two months down the road and I still have not seen this detail. The Minister has now confirmed that this detail will only be provided on Budget day. When I submitted Parliamentary Questions to each Minister I was only able to see a detailed breakdown from three departments.
“This is simply not good enough. The blatant fact of the matter is that this money has been allocated since February and as we begin to sit down for negotiations on a third Budget we have absolutely no clarity on what it is being spent on. If the Minister wishes to pre commit expenditure for capital investment we simply need to see the detail of what is being planned for next year. Taxpayers are being told what they can expect to see up until 2040 but cannot get any detail on what they can expect to see in 2019.
“Surely, the Ministers are in a position to provide this detail. This is an extraordinary amount of money and I fear that there is no joined up thinking or clarity from this Government when it will come to actually spending it. This is too much money and too important to be just another one of Fine Gael’s spinning exercises. We need real delivery.
“It is for this reason that Fianna Fáil called for a National Infrastructure Commission to be established. This would follow the progress made in other countries and ensure that there is a clear cross departmental focus on how capital funding is invested. Having Departments making such decisions in isolation is certainly not sustainable”, concluded Cowen