Constitutional Change a Necessity for Real Political Reform – Cullinane
David Cullinane, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Public Expenditure and Reform, said today that the government will need to put real power behind its words of reform and tackle the constitutional bar on opposition money bills.
Deputy Cullinane said:
“I welcome the positive input today by Ministers Noonan and Donohoe to the Select Committee on Arrangements for Budgetary Scrutiny. There are, however, certain issues that need to be teased out as we move forward.
“This government has to tackle the issue of a constitutional amendment to Section 2, Article 17 of the constitution, which allows only the government via the Minister for Finance to move money bills.
“At present the opposition can scrutinise, but it cannot initiate legislation with a financial bearing. This needs to be reformed.
“There is a need for an independent budgetary office with an independent costing unit.
“The information flow between government departments and opposition has to be streamlined. The opposition should be able to pull down information from relevant departments and agencies as needed, instead of having to make do with the information and reports of varying quality pushed on to them by the government.
“The increased use of off-balance sheet budgeting means that this whole area of state activity has to be analysed from both policy and procedure perspectives if the opposition is to be able to do its job effectively. The National Development Finance Agency needs to be brought into the scope of agencies subject to any future budgetary office and costing unit.
“Finally, while there has been much talk of equality proofing from government ministers, Sinn Féin has moved a bill that speaks directly to this issue. I hope to see its proposals forming part of any future Dáil reform.”