Noonan defends economic council
MINISTER FOR Finance Michael Noonan has described the Economic Management Council (EMC) as an effective decision-making body despite some Ministers’ reservations about it.
Mr Noonan, who has been in government in three different decades, described the council as hugely important in managing the economy.
The council, which comprises Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin and Mr Noonan, meets at least once a week to co-ordinate economic policy and implementation of the EU-IMF bailout programme.
Five senior officials and two political advisers also attend the meetings, which usually take place on Wednesday afternoons.
Some of the Ministers not in the inner circle of the EMC have privately expressed fears that the body has eroded some of the Cabinet’s traditional power. However, speaking in Cork, Mr Noonan said the council was, in effect, a Cabinet subcommittee.
“The Economic Management Council is, in effect, the Cabinet subcommittee for the management of the economy and it is true to say that economic and financial issues are paramount in this Government for all the reasons we know quite well because that’s where the crisis was,” said Mr Noonan.
“Certainly it’s a very influential committee – there’s the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, Minister Brendan Howlin and myself – it deals with the economic and financial issues and that’s its remit and it doesn’t interfere with the business of other Ministers,” he added.
Mr Noonan said that as the council was setting down expenditure parameters for all Government departments, it obviously constrained actions of other departments.
“It’s my third government now, being in with different taoisigh, and in terms of decision making, I find the economic management council very effective,” said the Minister.
He said other Ministers could submit their views to the EMC and there was also a series of Cabinet committees attended by a range of Ministers which also carried out important roles.