herald

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Politicians bump up expenses by €1.6m as they ‘share pain’

TDs and senators responded to pay cuts by bumping up their travel expenses last year.

Our politicians boasted about “sharing the pain” but new figures reveal that they weren’t as generous as first appeared.

The Comptroller and Auditor General's (C&AG) accounts reveal that travel expenses jumped by almost €1m to €5.96m and other expenses by €0.69m to €7.9m.

Salaries for members of |the Houses of the Oireachtas fell from €23.7m to €20.98m in 2010.

But secretarial assistance for non-office holders jumped by €0.9m to €20.4m since 2009.

Balancing the country's accounts has become difficult in the downturn as there is less money in terms of revenue.

However, the report lashed out at the management of budgets by government departments.

Bodies such as the NationalTourism Development Authority and the National Roads Authority receive State grants and some had a surplus at the end of their cash year.

The report said cash management of this kind did not seem consistent “with the principle of economy in the management of State funds”.

And it said that the department needed to focus on gaining the most out of its workforce.

“The effective management of civil service human resources is critical, if the State is to maximise value in the form of directed, focused activities from its workforce,” the C&AG said.

Net tax and PRSI receipts, which excluded the Income Levy, for this element of revenue fell by €13.1bn over the period – which was a fall of just under 30pc.

The C&AG said that the greatest decrease in absolute terms was in domestic VAT |as customers held back on spending.

VAT receipts between 2007 and 2010 fell by just under €4bn.

The civil service now totals approximately 36,400 staff with a combined pay bill of around €1.7bn, the C&AG said.

The report criticised accounting practices at the State Examinations Commission, saying it had not put in place an integrated accounting system, leaving |it dependent on the Department of Education for assistance in processing the salaries and expenses of staff.

Over two thirds of the drop in net tax receipts was accounted for by four sectors.

The construction sector fell by €2.8bn, the wholesale and retail trade by €2.7bn and in real estate, which included renting and business activities, fell by €2.1bn.

Spending on education |and skills was severely cut into in 2010.

The report noted that the cost of overall State expenditure in 2010 was €53.8bn, a reduction of 9.5pc on 2009 – €725m was issued in 2010 to acquire shares in banks while the State paid €979m on servicing the national debt.

cmurphy@herald.ie

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