Howlin seeks €1bn cut in public pay
The Government is seeking to generate savings of €1 billion on the public service pay and pensions bill between 2013 and 2015 as part of new talks with trade unions on an extension to the Croke Park agreement, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin has said.
In his Budget speech, he said notwithstanding progress made to date, the public service pay and pensions bill, at 36 per cent of spending, would need to make “an additional and substantial contribution to meeting our fiscal challenge in 2013 and beyond”.
He said additional productivity and cost extraction measures - not envisaged under the current Croke Park deal – would be required to ensure that the Government met these commitments.
Mr Howlin said the new talks on an extension to the Croke Park agreement would be “critical” to meeting the funding needs of the health services in particular in future years.
He said professional fees for health service providers such as GPs and community pharmacists – who are currently outside the scope of the protections on pay under the Croke Park agreement – are to be reduced. This move is aimed at generating savings of €70 million
Mr Howlin said the numbers employed within the public service will continue to fall in the years ahead.
“Public service staff numbers will be reduced to around 287,000 in 2013, a reduction of some 33,000 from the 2008 peak of 320,000. We plan to go further to reduce this number to 282,500 by end 2014.”
He said reducing public expenditure and numbers while continuing to provide key public services and social supports was not easy. He said that is why the Government was undertaking the most comprehensive reform of the public service since the State was founded.
“The Croke Park Agreement has been essential in supporting this reform. The value of a stable industrial relations environment in achieving a fiscal consolidation of this scale should not be underestimated.”
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