McDonald questions autonomy of new Department of Public Expenditure &
Speaking in the Dáil today Sinn Féin’s Public Expenditure and Reform Spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald TD said that the ultimate measure of any reform agenda within the public sector will be the experience of citizens seeking and accessing services.
Deputy McDonald questioned the autonomy of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform noting, “Minister Howlin is responsible for managing public expenditure within the overall envelope set by government but he is not responsible for the budgetary parameters – the Minister for Finance has retained these responsibilities.
“The new Department of Public Expenditure & Reform is housed in the Department of Finance. Two thirds of the new Departments staff comes from the Department of Finance, in fact they may not even have to move desks as the Department of Finance divisions they worked in are to remain intact within Public Expenditure and Reform. The recently appointed Secretary General of Public Expenditure & Reform first began working for the Department of Finance in 1993.
“In fact the Minister for Finance will continue to advise Public Expenditure & Reform on apportionment of current and capital expenditure and some functions transferred to the new Minister may be performed only with the consent of the Minister for Finance. So the question has to be asked? How new is this new Department?
“Minister Howlin has quite rightly made reference to productivity and value for money. However resourcing frontline services must be the foundation stone of any programme of public sector reform.
“The Minister is in a state of denial and delusion when he claims that public services have been largely unaffected by the cutbacks – or ‘budgetary consolidation’ – pursued by the last government and continued by the current administration. His assertion that we cannot afford current levels of services will send a shiver down the back of every person who has been short-changed by overstretched and under-resourced public services.
“The ultimate measure of any reform agenda within the public sector will be the experience of citizens seeking and accessing services.”