McGrath queries consultant costs

There is a need for greater accountability and transparency to ensure that the Government is getting value for money when it brings costly external consultants in to design policy, according to Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath.

It has emerged that despite the need to cut overall government spending the Department of Finance has spent €103m on external consultants since coming into power.

Mr McGrath said that for five years it has been known that the department needed to reduce its reliance on external consultants and develop the capabilities to meet the requirements to implement policy.

“There was an extensive study carried out into the internal capacity within the Department of Finance in 2009. Five years on from that report it would be reasonable to assume the department would have developed sufficient in-house expertise to reduce their reliance on external advice.

“Instead, these figures confirm that the Department, the NTMA and the Central Bank are still paying massive fees to a small pool of consultants.

“What is lacking is some form of post-event audit of the quality of advice received and what can be learned for future events.”

The Department of Finance defended some of its direct spending by arguing that of the nearly €6m it spent on external consultants it had reclaimed €2.4m from the banks.

Mr McGrath said that whether directly or indirectly it was still the taxpayer who was ultimately going to end up paying these fees.

“It is no consolation to be told that a lot of these fees were recouped from the banks. The reality is that the taxpayers own a number of the banks having pumped billions of euro into them and the privately owned banks will simply hike their fees/charges and adjust interest rates to ensure consumers ultimately end up paying these extravagant fees,” he said.

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