A Bill seeking to make the Government Budgetary process accountable and to set out targets to be achieved by State departments, is to be introduced to Seanad Éireann by Galway senator Fidelma Healy Eames.
Sen Healy-Eames’ Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Bill (2014) seeks to have Budget decisions made in a “more open and accountable way so the country can be run more effectively”.
The bill proposes the “mandatory publication”, by the Minister for Finance, of a statement of fiscal risks by June 1 of each year to “identify and mitigate the medium and long term risks” to the State’s balance sheet, and “sharpen Government minds about the long-term fiscal consequences of short-term Budgetary decisions”. She also said such a statement should be “comprehensive and accessible” and “not filled with departmental jargon”.
The second part of this new bill requires the Minister for Finance to announce, on Budget Day, the programmes and services that are expected to be delivered within the spending caps for each Government Department.
The bill also proposes the establishment of a new framework for policy implementation that would audit the success of any new expenditures. It would mandate that Government ministers set out measurable targets so as to benchmark the relative success or failure of any and all programmes and state where that money is coming from.
“We have seen how new Government initiatives from the Port Tunnel, the National Aquatic Centre, to electronic voting announced to great fanfare, became crippled with delays, overspends and outright failure,” said the Reform Alliance Senator. “This policy would go a long way towards ensuring that this would not happen again.”
Sen Healy-Eames said the public are “crying out for change, for more open, honest and accountable Government” and that reforming the budgetary process “is a good place to start”.