Senior ministers have committed to creating a “solid base” for cross-party interaction on Ireland’s financial planning this year, despite noting the tight deadlines that will have to be met before October’s imminent budget.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe said they are focussed on adhering to new cross-party rules in a submission to the recently-established budgetary scrutiny committee.
In a detailed eight-page letter sent to the cross-party body, Mr Noonan and Mr Donohoe said they are determined to allow complete transparency on budget planning for the benefit of the country.
However, they added that due to the tight deadlines which will have to be met before the October budget, this year’s cross-party interaction may be limited to creating a “solid base” for the future, before more “refined” approaches are adopted in subsequent budget cycles.
The comment, which had been widely expected due to the short amount of time left before budget plans are put in place, means that while future financial planning will be entirely open, there may be necessary limitations on what extent of interaction can legitimately take place for Budget 2017. This is because of the short timeframe available before the autumn budget takes place.
The submission by Mr Noonan and Mr Donohoe show that, as part of the new cross-party budget scrutiny arrangements, both ministers’ departments will be obliged to provide an economic statement every June, as well as taking part in a debate described as a “national economic dialogue”. The departments will also have to produce a mid-year expenditure report and a tax update each July, and to allow further scrutiny of budget proposals, if required.
Writing to the cross-party committee, which is chaired by Fine Gael TD John Paul Phelan, the ministers committed to the need for a “focus on early engagement with the Oireachtas” on budgetary matters. They said it is “incumbent” on both government and opposition TDs “to co-operate together” on the issue for the good of the country.
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