McHale heads new body to monitor key economic decisions
A NEW five-member Fiscal Council has been established to independently monitor -- and tell the public -- whether the Government is meeting its budget targets.
Fiscal Council members are Sebastian Barnes of the economic think-tank the OECD; Trinity College professor Alan Barrett; former IMF official Donal O'Donovan; and associate professor at Smith College Massachusetts, Dr Roisin O'Sullivan. Professor John McHale, the head of economics at NUI Galway, will act as chairman.
Announcing the new body yesterday, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said it marked another important step in the process of reforming Ireland's budgetary framework. "The council will help to inform the public discussion surrounding economic and fiscal matters," he added.
Other European countries have set up similar bodies, which help to ensure governments stick to their policies and manage their economies appropriately.
They operate in 27 EU countries, including the UK, where one was established last year, and are routinely recommended by the IMF as part of economic rescue plans.
The Government had committed to establishing the council by the middle of this year as part of the EU/IMF bailout programme, and said it would bring in the necessary legislation by the end of this year.
The council's work can help paint a more positive picture for the financial markets about how economies are being run.