Ryan accuses department of ‘Yes Minister’ tactics

Greens leader slates delay in setting up office to advise Oireachtas members on budget

Eamon Ryan: “We have learned nothing from  before the economic crash where a lack of independent questioning led to unsustainable budget decision-making.” Photograph: Eric Luke

Eamon Ryan: “We have learned nothing from before the economic crash where a lack of independent questioning led to unsustainable budget decision-making.” Photograph: Eric Luke

 

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has applied classic Yes Minister tactics to delay the establishment of an independent budget office to advise the Oireachtas on the budget process, according to Green Party leader Eamon Ryan.

He says the department is insisting that the senior post can only be at principal officer level, while the Oireachtas wants to employ more senior staff.

The independent budget office was promised in the programme for governmentt to support Oireachtas members and committees through the budget process by providing advice on options for tax and spending.

“The 2018 budget process starts this April but the advert for an economist to help the budget oversight committee is still on hold,” according to Mr Ryan. “ It seems we have learnt nothing from the days before the economic crash where a lack of independent questioning led to unsustainable budget decision-making,” he added.

A spokesman for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said that the Houses of the Oireachtas forwarded a staffing review to the department on February 17th. “The department will consider future staffing requests within the context of this review, he said.

Commitment

The annual budget process starts in April, with the publication of the spring statement, which updates the official forecasts for the public finances and gives the first official estimate of how much room for manoevure there will be for the October package to increase spending and cut taxes.

Following this, the independent budget offce was due to make a key input in advising the Oireachtas budget oversight committee and “crunching the numbers” on various budget options. The budget oversight committee was established last July.

The process is designed to increase the input of the Oireachtas into the annual budgetary process. As part of this, a new report on spending is published during the summer, and Oireachtas committees get the opportunity to discuss papers on tax strategy drawn up by senior public servants ahead of the budget.