State bodies spent €11.2m on credit cards in two years

Some departments refused to supply details of spend after request by FF’s Dara Calleary

 

State bodies spent €11,288,798 using credit cards over two years, new figures have revealed.

Information released to Fianna Fáil spokesman on public expenditure and reform Dara Calleary show how much was spent by bodies under the auspices of Government departments in 2014 and 2015.

However the Departments of Health, Housing and Foreign Affairs did not release details of spending by State bodies under their remit.

Mr Calleary said he requested the information in July but only got it at the end of November.

He said: “I submitted the questions when the Console controversy came to light . . . and the use of credit cards in that agency.

“The aim was to ensure that proper scrutiny was in place and that any discrepancies could be identified. The refusal of the three departments to compile and release the information is worrying.”

Mr Calleary requested the spend by each department, the State bodies under their remit and the third-party agencies they fund.

However only one Government department – Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht – gave information about third-party agencies.

‘Concerning’

The Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo said it was concerning that this level of detail was not available to the departments.

The figures released to Mr Calleary by parliamentary questions show the biggest spend for State bodies is under the remit of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

In 2014 13 bodies under its control had a credit card bill of €2,700,753 and a further one of €2,967,010 in 2015.

Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism agency, had the largest share of the spend. It had 117 credit cards in 2014 and 120 in 2015. It spent €1,368,103 in 2014 and €1,643,103 in 2015.

Other high spending agencies included Tourism Ireland who spent €1,035,317 in 2014 and €925,225 in 2015.

Bodies under the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources spent €1,127,350.53 over the two years.

The final bill for all the State bodies released to Mr Calleary was €11,288,798.91.

However it is expected it would be significantly higher if the Departments of Health, Foreign Affairs and Housing were included.

In his reply to Mr Calleary, Minister for Housing Simon Coveney said the credit card spend was an operational matter for the organisations themselves.

Mr Coveney said: “Third party agencies in receipt of funding from my department are governed by a range of provisions and controls associated with such funding, including the requirement that funds are used in accordance with the relevant framework agreements which address financial matters and also the requirement to prepare and seek approval for audited financial statements in accordance with all relevant Government circulars.”

High spend

In total there were 361 credit cards in circulation across the State agencies in 2014 and an additional 37 in 2015.

The Island Fisheries of Ireland had 65 credit cards, IDA Ireland had 48 and the Office of Public Works had 50 in 2014 and 77 in 2015.

The figures show Bord Bia had a credit card bill of €423,266 for the two years, the TEAGASC bill was €427,272 over 2014 and 2015 and Island Fisheries of Ireland had a bill of €534,061.

Other high spend bodies included the Science Foundation of Ireland at €483,366, IDA Ireland at €416,902 and the Office of Public Works spent €647,324 over the two years.

The Disabled Drivers Medical Board is the only body under the Department of Finance remit and it had no expenditure or credit cards.

Waterways Ireland, Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board, Tusla, the Army, Competition and Consumer Protection Authority, the Institute of Public Administration, Social Welfare Tribunal, CIE and the Pensions Council did not use any credit cards.

Separate figures released to Mr Calleary show Government departments spent €727,794.39 in 2014 and €771,253.63 in 2015. There were 156 credit cards in circulation in 2014 and three more in 2015.

Cards are issued to private secretaries and secretary generals in the department and are checked by the department’s finance officer.