White paper reveals Government deception on fiscal space – Sherlock

Seán Sherlock TD
10 October 2016

Last Friday, after the main opposition parties had published our alternative budget proposals, it was reported in the Irish Times that an “extra €200 million to expand the so-called “fiscal space”, is understood to have been found through “savings””.

Following on from this report, we have sought clarifications from either Paschal Donohoe or Michael Noonan, but no such clarity has been forthcoming. Labour’s public spending spokesperson Seán Sherlock has commented:

“Following on from remarks made by the Chief Economist at the Department of Finance to the Budgetary Oversight Committee last week, the White Paper published over the weekend seems to confirm that there will be further supplementary estimates on the capital side of approximately €190m.

“The Department of Finance has confirmed to the Labour Party that this would lead to an increase in the base for next year allowing for additional spending in 2017. Despite Government spending running over 400m behind profile, confirming my party’s contention that we can pay the Christmas Bonus in full this year, I suspect these supplementary estimates have been included in the White Paper as doing so feeds into the space for 2017.

“This is despite Paschal Donohoe making clear to the Budgetary Oversight Committee that there would be no further supplementary estimates, and Michael Noonan indicating in a PQ response to myself that “there is no scope for further additional voted expenditure above the aggregate level already approved”.

“It is clear that despite these statements from the Ministers, they have been planning additional supplementary budgets for some time. It makes a mockery of new politics and indeed a more involved budgetary process if simple information of this nature is to be denied to anybody but those serving in Government. Government rhetoric is falling well short of Government practice.

It appears to those of us in the Labour Party that the Budgetary Oversight Committee has not been given full and honest information in advance of the budget, and Ministers Noonan and Donohoe must account for that.”

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