Paschal Donohoe accused of pulling funds ‘out of the sky’

Fine Gael is undermining the budgetary process by continuously “finding” money for public sector pay deals, it has been claimed.

Paschal Donohoe accused of pulling funds ‘out of the sky’

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe has been criticised for failing to fully explain where he will get the €120m needed to finance wage hikes for those in the public service.

Fianna Fáil public expenditure spokesman Dara Calleary accused Mr Donohoe of pulling funds “out of the sky” for the latest pay deal.

Mr Donohoe on Tuesday announced that a €1,000 pay rise for public servants earning up to €65,000 would be brought forward.

The increases had been due to kick in from September but will now be introduced from April in a bid to avoid industrial unrest.

Mr Donohoe said the pay increases will be funded through savings and efficiencies. He pointed out that €168m had been saved last year and expects a similar figure can be found this year.

Mr Calleary said yesterday the explanation was not good enough and that he would be asking each minister for exact details of where savings would be achieved.

“If services are affected by this it’s not something we will be happy with and we intend to monitor it in the coming weeks and months,” said Mr Calleary.

He said the budget negotiated by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael had “absolutely” been undermined by the deals.

“The hour before the budget, on the day of the budget, they found €100m, then they found €50m for the guards, and they found €120m yesterday.

"I have said there is one very big sofa in the Department of Public Expenditure,” he said.

“We need budget scrutiny and budget oversight. If politics is to mean anything it means that the parliament, the Oireachtas, actually sees these decisions in advance, gets a chance to scrutinise them, gets a chance to see exactly where the money is coming from, and what the alternatives are.

“You cant just pull it out of the sky at 12 o’clock in the day going into Cabinet.”

Separately, Mr Calleary said he would be demanding that Mr Donohoe release figures relating to pay increases due to the highest paid civil servants under the unwinding of FEMPI legislation.

He said it is “completely unacceptable” that details relating to wage increases, which are set to be received by senior workers who already earn between €175,000 and €185,000, would not be made public.

“The pay levels of all of our senior public servants should be known to everybody,” said Mr Calleary.

“It’s paid from the public purse, we are all subject to intense scrutiny from the public, those of us who are paid out of the public purse and particularly those of us who are being paid higher salaries.”

A spokeswoman for Mr Donohoe said a circular on the pay increases is being prepared and would be published in April when wages are due to be adjusted.

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