Blood transfusion service ‘owes State €8.7m’ in staff pension deductions

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service owes the State €8.7m in pension-related deductions from staff, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General.

However, the IBTS is disputing the State’s claim to the funds, and the disagreement, ongoing since 2009, shows no sign of resolution, the C&AG said in his report, published yesterday.

The deductions began in April 2009 under FEMPI (Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act) which provided for deductions from the remuneration of public servants.

The Department of Health requested that amounts deducted be remitted to it in accordance with the provisions of the legislation.

However, the C&AG said: “Notwithstanding the department’s instruction, no amounts have yet been paid over.”

The department does not have the option of collecting the deduction itself by way of reduction of an annual grant because the IBTS is funded mainly from the sale of blood products.

The auditor notes that negotiations have been ongoing between the department and the IBTS since 2009 and that while the IBTS contends that it wants to comply with FEMPI, it believes “it also has obligations to honour contractual arrangements with staff to fund the provision of superannuation benefits to staff on retirement”.

The C&AG said while the department initially informed the IBTS that the FEMPI Act did not apply to its staff, it subsequently reversed this instruction.

A spokesperson for the IBTS said yesterday they were in dispute about how to fund the pension scheme. He said there is currently a hole of about €22m in the pension fund.

The C&AG said the resolution of the issue will involve the IBTS, the department [of health], and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

“It is not evident that the processes employed by the agencies concerned will result in a resolution of the issues in dispute in the short term,” he said.

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