Ministers Noonan and Donohoe to meet Oireachtas Committee to discuss new approach to Budget scrutiny
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, T.D., and the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan T.D., have today (Tuesday) welcomed Government approval for proposals which they have jointly developed for the reform of the budgetary process – a key element of the Programme for a Partnership Government.
The proposed new approach is explicitly designed to meet the requirement for a major intensification of dialogue and interaction with the Oireachtas on budgetary matters.
Minister Donohoe said: ‘The Programme for Government confirms the Government’s objective to work in close partnership with the Oireachtas. The reforms the Government are now bringing forward to the budgetary process are a major innovation in empowering the Dáil to examine, debate and make recommendations to Government on budgetary priorities’.
The key elements of the proposed approach for Budget 2017 to ensure that the budgetary process is underpinned by substantially enhanced Dáil input into, and feedback on, budget proposals include:-
- The publication of the Government’s Spring/Summer Economic Statement in June;
- Holding the National Economic Dialogue at the end of June;
- The publication of a Mid-Year Expenditure Report in July for the first time; and
- Circulation of the Tax Strategy Papers to the relevant Sectoral Oireachtas Committees in late July.
Minister Noonan said: ‘These new milestones in the budgetary cycle are intended to mark a decisive shift away from what has been characterised by the OECD as a disconnected series of annual set-piece events replacing it with ongoing and active engagement with the Houses of the Oireachtas and its committees throughout the course of the budget cycle. The Government’s reforms will provide all members of the Oireachtas with the opportunity to influence and critique budget allocations and priorities, making budgetary debate and discussion in Ireland more realistic, informed and effective’.
The Government’s proposals will be submitted shortly to the Select Committee on Arrangements for Budgetary Scrutiny. As part of the engagement with the Houses of the Oireachtas on this issue, Ministers Donohoe and Noonan will make themselves available to the Select Committee on Arrangements for Budgetary Scrutiny to discuss the proposals. The first meeting of the Committee is expected to take place in the coming days.
Notes to Editors:
- The Spring/Summer Economic Statement (SES) will provide an updated assessment of the macro-economic and fiscal prospects, including the medium-term fiscal framework. It will also provide an updated forecast on the fiscal space for subsequent discussion on budgetary priorities. The proposed new approach will see the SES presented to the Oireachtas in an entirely different way, with time allocated for inclusive and meaningful debate and discussion. It is proposed that this Statement could be considered in advance of the summer recess by the Budget and Finance Committee to be established by the Dáil.
- The objective of the National Economic Dialogue is to facilitate an open and inclusive exchange on the competing economic and social priorities in advance of Budget 2017. It will be informed by the macro-economic and fiscal parameters, including the EU budgetary framework, which were set out in the Spring/Summer Economic Statement.
- The publication of a Mid-Year Expenditure Report, for the first time, would:-
- Report on expenditure trends to end-June across spending programmes and revised end-year outturn in each case;
- Set out the expenditure ceilings for 2016 at Vote level. It will also set aggregate level ceilings for 2017-2019 at Vote level taking account of the forecast 2016 outturns and an analysis of the key non-discretionary drivers of expenditure, for example, demographics and pay, as was included in Budget 2016 projections of gross fiscal space.
- Set out the basis for any changes since Budget Day October 2015 and give an update of the projections for 2017 expenditures prepared in October 2015 to take account of carryover of 2016 changes.
- Following the publication of the report, the Committees could review the priorities and challenges for each Vote Group. They would then be requested to provide their recommendations on expenditure priorities for 2017 having regard to the available fiscal space published in the Spring/Summer Statement. These recommendations would feed into the Government’s consideration and development of budgetary measures to be announced on Budget Day in Mid-October.