Over €230m spent on shelved public-private partnerships
MORE THAN €230 million was paid out by the State on various transport, education and health projects that were to have been delivered by public-private partnerships (PPP) but have now been cancelled or put on hold.
The figures are revealed in the annual review of public spending by the State’s budgetary watchdog, the Comptroller and Auditor General.
The comptroller’s report states that €216 million was spent on preparatory work on three large-scale transport projects: Metro North, Dart Underground and Metro West. All three projects have been postponed by the Government.
A further €10 million was spent preparing PPP projects in the third-level education that were subsequently cancelled.
The report also says that more than €4 million was spent preparing plans to develop radiation oncology facilities by means of public-private partnerships before it was decided to revert to providing these facilities from more traditional funding methods.
The comptroller’s report also shows that one HSE employee – believed to be a hospital consultant – received more than €143,000 in allowance payments last year, although some of this may have been in respect of other years.
Another HSE employee, also believed to be a doctor, received more than €150,000 in overtime.
One employee in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions received more than €51,000 last year for “higher, special or additional duties”. This would be in addition to basic pay.
The Comptroller’s report also shows that a nine-month delay in implementing reduced pay rates for new entrant teachers led to overpayments of some € 1.18 million by the Department of Education.
The report also reveals that the probation and welfare service in the Department of Justice spent more than €2 million on leasing a building it could not occupy while staff were based in other premises that were deemed unsafe and of poor standard.
The Probation Service entered into a lease for the building in Dublin’s north inner city in 2008 after advice from the Chief State Solicitor’s office that it had suitable planning permission for its intended use. However, a review by Dublin City Council found it did not, and local residents subsequently protested at the building being used to work with young offenders.
The report also found that flaws in the system for ensuring motorists renew the tax on their vehicles was contributing to a €50 million loss to the exchequer annually. A new system will be introduced this year, similar to the British one, where motorists will have to declare in advance that a vehicle will be off the road and not liable for tax. Britain has a motor tax evasion of 1 per cent compared with 5 per cent here.