Howlin confirms supplementary budget needed for health overruns

Thu, Nov 22, 2012, 00:00

There will be a supplementary budget for the Department of Health, Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin has confirmed in the Dáil, despite repeated denials by Taoiseach Enda Kenny of an extra allocation.

As the embattled department faces overruns of an estimated €400 million in this year’s €13.5 billion budget, Mr Howlin told Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald “it is likely there will be a supplementary budget for health”.

Minister for Health James Reilly, along with Mr Kenny, had consistently denied there would be a supplementary estimate to cover the budget shortfall. But pressed by Fianna Fáil public expenditure spokesman Seán Fleming, the Minister said he did not know yet how much would be allocated to the department “but it will be a tiny fraction of the €13.5 billion” allocation this year.

Ms McDonald said during Dáil question time the Government was cutting more from the budget but there was also the “bizarre situation of a supplementary budget days from the announcement of the 2013 budget”.

Mr Fleming said it could be argued there wasn’t any overspending this year but underbudgeting.

“The budget was wrong and flawed.” The Laois-Offaly TD said it was known that last year’s budget was not genuine because the allocated amount was “lower than what people in the industry outside the department knew to be the case”.

But the Minister rejected this and said “it’s a little much to say we did not allocate sufficient funds. It is very difficult to do but we will do it more accurately. The HSE is transforming itself to have more accountable timelined controls and we will see the follow-through next year.”

Earlier the Minister highlighted reforms to be introduced across departmental budgets.