TD urges clarity on €308m Croke Park saving

The head of the body overseeing co-operation with the Croke Park pay deal has agreed to look again at ways to verify the reported non-pay savings of €308m a year in the public service.

The head of the body overseeing co-operation with the Croke Park pay deal has agreed to look again at ways to verify the reported non-pay savings of €308m a year in the public service.

It was the figure reported last June as money saved, in addition to an estimated €289m reduction in the public pay bill, in the first year of the agreement between the Government and public service unions.

However, TDs raised questions about the accuracy of the non-pay savings reported by the implementation body.

Its chairman, PJ Fitzpatrick, told the Dáil Public Accounts Committee that the annual pay bill reduction is on target to be another €480m this year, about that achieved in 2011.

Fine Gael TD Paschal Donohoe said industrial peace brought about by the agreement was important, but greater clarity was needed on the savings for the people paying for the Croke Park deal through their taxes.

“How can we be satisfied that what departments are presenting back to you, that the figures are what they say they are? We should have a more robust mechanism for verification.”

“There has been independent verification in relation to three examples out of hundreds of individual actions. How can we be sure that the figure [of €308m] is accurate?”

Mr Fitzpatrick said the implementation body would look at how it could enhance the robustness of verification, but added it had no reason not to stand over any figures it produced.

“We know that allocations for non-pay being made in budgets are reduced. We have to assume that what people are telling us [is correct],” he said.

“The Department of Health would know what the HSE is spending, what their budget was and they’re obviously looking at comparisons between this year and last year. But short of us going checking every single report, it would be impossible.”

He expressed confidence of achieving 70% of the target to reduce public service staffing by 35,000 from 2008 to 2015 by the end of this year. There are around 23,500 fewer public servants than in 2008, including 7,500 who left their jobs up to the end of February.


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