Central Bank spent over €1.5m on travel and hotels for staff

Central Bank

The Central Bank last year paid hotels.com more than €540,000 in fees for its travelling staff.

The €540,499 payment to Expedia firm, hotels.com is part of a €1.5 million spend by the Central Bank on travel and hotels last year for its staff.

The largest payment by the Central Bank concerning travel was the €715,143 paid to travel consultants, FCM Travel Solutions.

The €1.5m spend also includes €194,131 to Aer Lingus, €50,307 to roomex.com and €24,799 to Ryanair.

A spokesman for the Central Bank said on Monday that in line with Government circulars the Bank used the services of a travel agent - FCM Travel Solutions during 2018.

The spokesman said: “The Bank used FCM’s systems for arranging flights and hotel accommodation, in addition to FCM’s travel booking services to arrange travel on a limited, as needs arise, basis. The amounts paid to FCM include the costs of flights and hotels paid directly by FCM on the Bank’s behalf in addition to the related FCM service fee."

He stated: “In line with our travel policy Central Bank staff overnight accommodation is offered in line with public sector policies and spend limits.”

He stated: “In order to secure the most competitive rates, the Bank uses a range of sources to secure the most suitable and competitively priced accommodation – one of which is Hotels.com. Where practicable, the Bank’s policy is to book ‘reasonably priced business class hotel accommodation’.

He pointed out that the work of the Central Bank of Ireland necessitates attendance at various international meetings and the vast bulk of these meetings relate to the work of the Eurosystem/European Central Bank and EU Supervisory Committees.

He said: “In addition travel throughout Ireland and overseas for the purpose of conducting inspections of financial services firms authorised by the Central Bank is also required.

Figures provided by the Central Bank show that it paid Sodexo Ireland €3.54 million for providing catering services for the bank’s 2,000 staff at North Wall Quay, Spencer Dock and Sandyford. in Dublin.

The spokesman said: “Staff, contractors and visitors may purchase catering services in the Bank and all such payments received are offset against this cost.”

The Central Bank also paid €644,673 to cyber-security firm, Bianconi Research Ltd trading as RITS in 2018.

The Central Bank spokesman said that that the Central Bank is proactive and consistent in ensuring it maintains the highest standards of information security controls, in line with international best practice and emerging threats.

He said that RITS “is one of the firms we have engaged in this area”.

The spokesman said: “We do not comment on the specific arrangements in relation to security but RITS were not engaged in relation to any specific cyber-attack issues.”

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