Cull of State agencies to ease off in 2013

 

THE GOVERNMENT has substantially modified its aim to abolish or merge almost 100 State agencies by the end of 2014.

While all but one of the 48 actions planned for 2012 will go ahead, even if taking longer than planned, almost half of the 46 abolitions or mergers of quangos planned for 2013 have been shelved or long-fingered.

A cull of State agencies was included as a major policy objective in the programme for government agreed between Fine Gael and Labour in March 2011.

Last November Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin announced an ambitious plan that would see 48 agencies or conglomerates abolished or merged by the end of 2013. He promised a critical review for a further 46 agencies, with a view to rationalising them in 2013.

At yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Mr Howlin gave an update on the progress of the plan. He said 47 of the 48 rationalisations planned for this year would go ahead, resulting in savings of €20 million.

However, of the 46 planned for 2013, only 24 will now go ahead on time.

Of the 22 that will not proceed next year, 11 will not go ahead at all; the review has not yet been completed for three; and a further eight have been deferred due to “external factors”.

One merger planned for 2012 will not now go ahead. That is the National Cancer Registry, which was going to be absorbed into the Department of Health. The other 47 have happened or will proceed.

Some 37 county enterprise boards are being abolished and the number of vocational education committees has been reduced from 33 to 16.

Although given the go-ahead, the rationalisation of many of the 47 agencies has not yet been implemented.

Officials from the department said yesterday this was because many required legislation and some of those Bills had had to give way to other priority legislation.

Among the 11 planned mergers binned are the abolition of Bord Iascaigh Mhara and of the National Economic and Social Council; the amalgamation of the Road Safety Authority with the Railway Safety Commission; and the abolition of the Heritage Council.