Fiscal council ‘not being ignored’

A report by the Fiscal Advisory Council recommending a €2bn adjustment in the Budget is not "left on the shelf, un-touched and un-read" according to Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

He was responding to comments by the chairman of the independent advisory group, Professor John McHale, who said he would consider his position if he found his expertise was being ignored.

“Resignation is a tool we have to raise the political costs of bad policies,” he told the Sunday Business Post at the weekend.

Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin said the independent board was being “undermined” and called for a Dáil debate on its report recommending the Government proceed with cuts. “There is no point in having a fiscal council if their advice is consistently ignored. Not just ignored, but no process entered into where there is any deliberation of it, or any counter points put based on research and evidence,” Mr Martin said.

“We can all have conflicting views on things. But when a report is put to one side and dismissed, that is not satisfactory. There is a risk that the body perceives itself to be undermined in terms of the work it is charged to do.”

The Taoiseach responded that he set up the Fiscal Advisory Council but “it is not the Government.”

He said: “Their report is a good report and it sets out from their perspective what they think should be done. At the end of the day, the Government has got to make decisions on the Budget based on the information and the analysis and the issues that it thinks should be dealt with.”

“It is not a case of taking the independent fiscal council’s report and leaving it on the shelf, un-touched or un-read or un-assessed. The Government has to make decisions at the end of the day.”

Reform Alliance TD, Lucinda Creighton, has also called for a “transparent, open debate” in the Dáil in advance of the Budget.

Mr Kenny said he would be “very happy” to facilitate a debate and the party whips will arrange that.


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