Enda Kenny outlines key priorities faced by State

Looming Government tasks include preparation of spring statement and October budget

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: “The careful management of the economy and the public finances must and will remain a priority.”  Photograph: Eric Luke

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: “The careful management of the economy and the public finances must and will remain a priority.” Photograph: Eric Luke

 

The State’s caretaker Government faces an immediate range of important issues and challenges including the preparation of a spring economic statement.

Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny listed the presentation of the spring statement and “the presentation of the budget itself in approximately 28 weeks’ time” in October as key matters to be focused on.

“The careful management of the economy and the public finances must and will remain a priority, particularly in the complex and uncertain international economic environment,” Mr Kenny said.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan warned earlier this week the Government may miss its deadline to submit its spring economic statement to the European Commission. Ireland is obliged to submit a stability programme update to the commission next month. The report contains key economic forecasts, the most important of which is projected growth rate. It is provided by the Department of Finance and does not require ministerial sign-off.

Stability

programme The spring economic statement, incorporating the

stability programme update, was brought in by the Government last year. The statement was framed as a narrative which used “layman’s terms”.

In June, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform sends circulars to departments seeking feedback. The responses tend to set out the pressures and priorities of the departments. “If you don’t have a minister in place at that stage, that’s going to cause problems,” a source said.

A National Economic Dialogue took place in Dublin Castle last July, in another new element of the budgetary process. The point was for the Government to open pre-budget talks with unions, employers and Opposition.

Invitations were also extended to representatives of the diaspora, the academic community and research institutes. It remains to be seen if that exercise will be repeated.

Terminology problem

However, they have entered common political parlance, with Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney and others using words in public appearances during the week.

When Mr Kenny told the Dáil yesterday he would travel to Áras an Uachtaráin to tender his resignation, he listed the immediate jobs that remained his duty to attend to during the transitional period before a new government.

Among them was the requirement to travel to Washington for St Patrick’s Day, during which he will meet US president Barack Obama and US vice-president Joe Biden, as well as speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan.

The European Council meeting in Brussels will be his next port of call, where issues such as the migration crisis will dominate discussions.