Taoiseach issues warning to underperforming Ministers

Taoiseach issues warning to underperforming Ministers

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has today warned Ministers their jobs are on the line after revealing the Government has failed on two major commitments for its first year in power.

Despite failing to publish the promised individual report cards on the Cabinet, Mr Kenny made the threat as he conceded that efforts to renegotiate a debt burden deal and an end to upward-only rent reviews have been unsuccessful.

When asked if anyone would be sacked following the end-of-year report, Mr Kenny replied: "You'd be surprised."

The Taoiseach insisted that Ministers have been made aware of their responsibilities and have been given action plans to ensure the Government's attempts to stabilise the economy get further under way.

"An example of something we haven't been able to deliver on and we're disappointed about is in respect of upward-only rent reviews," said Mr Kenny.

"We had considered this, but constitutionally it proved to be impossible without having to make massive taxpayers' compensation for landlords, which we weren't prepared to do."

Upward-only rent reviews were banned by the last Government and the Fine Gael-Labour coalition had pledged to remove such clauses from existing commercial leases. This would mean that tenants paying more than the market dictates could appeal to their landlord and demand a mark-down.

However, the Taoiseach said any changes to the legislation would result in the Government being open to legal challenges or having to pay landlords compensation.

Mr Kenny also said that negotiations to seek a reduction in European debt with the troika of the IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank were still under review.

The Government is due to make a €3.1bn payment to the troika on March 31, as agreed under the European promissory notes.

He said the troika is currently preparing a technical paper to further advance the issue.

The Government has however managed to cut the cost to the taxpayer of "recapitalising" the covered banks from an estimated €35bn in the Programme of Support to €16.5bn.

Despite listing a number of areas in which the Government has made progress, including its Action Plan for Jobs and support to new businesses, the Taoiseach insisted he was not looking for a pat on the back.

"This is a sober analysis of the action that has been taken by Government in respect of our programme," Mr Kenny said.

"I have pointed out issues in which we were disappointed that we were unable to achieve because of constitutional problems.

"This is not a case of coming out here and blowing trumpets and turning corners and saying everything is rosy in the garden.

"We fully understand the scale of the problems. This is a business-like approach. It is not one to say that ministers have achieved all they set out to do."

The Taoiseach previously warned Cabinet members that they faced the axe if they failed to meet strict targets set under the Programme for Government.

Before Christmas he pledged to rate individual ministers to ensure they were measuring up to the job, details of which he said would be available in the report unveiled today.

However, he backtracked, saying the report was not about individual Ministers and their actions.

"The position is that this is a report of the activities in Government with respect of the Programme for Government and is a report that's collective in its response," Mr Kenny went on.

"It's not itemised in terms of Ministers or Ministers of State. I said I would sit down with them individually."

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