herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

Banking probe costs €5m, with €80k spend on chairs

FURIOUS TDs have told the banking inquiry to cut €1.6m from its budget.

The demand comes as it emerged that €80,000 was set aside for chairs and desks alone.

Figures drawn up for the costs of the inquiry revealed that it was going to cost the State in around €5m in total to complete.

The cost included the massive figure for tables and chairs - enough to buy at least 1,777 Torkel swivel office chairs in Ikea at €45 each.

Also included was €700,000 set aside for building works and €1.9m for support staff, including 28 core secretariat staff for 18 months.

Four legal advisers to the committee are set to cost around €200,000, according to the proposed figures.

But TDs have told the Office of Public Works (OPW) to cut back on the costs of the inquiry by €1.6m.

angry

It emerged over the weekend that some members of the Dail were angry when the proposed cost of the inquiry was
presented.

Chair of the inquiry Ciaran Lynch said that the OPW had been told to come up with a cheaper plan.

"The costs will be substantially less than what was presented to us before," he said.

The TDs want the bill for refurbishing rooms and upgrading computer systems to be reduced before the public hearings begin.

Among the costs that have caused anger is a proposed €700,000 spend to upgrade vacant offices at the Department of Agriculture headquarters beside Leinster House.

It was proposed that these offices could house 50 of the banking inquiry's support staff.

But the costs included work such as new windows.

Senator Sean Barrett has called on the Dail spending watchdog to investigate the "excessive" amounts, particularly the amount allocated for chairs and desks.

money

"The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) should look at this before, not after, the money is spent.

There is a serious question over value for money here," he said.

Legal costs for the inquiry are likely to be much higher than that which has been suggested.

However, the document outlining the potential cost makes clear that the final figure was only based on estimates.

This figure will be known after companies bid for the work.

"Costs cannot be finalised until after [the] tender process is completed. No budget has been provided for costs of legal proceedings arising from the inquiry," the document said.

The 11-member committee of inquiry was set up to investigate the cause of the banking collapse.

There was controversy last month when it emerged that, on legal advice, the committee would not be able to question the former cabinet about discussions on the night of the bank guarantee.

lbyrne@herald.ie

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