Monday 5 December 2016

PAC to probe transfer of €2bn to councils

Shane Phelan and Niall O'Connor

Published 01/10/2016 | 02:30

PAC chairman Seán Fleming Photo: Tom Burke
PAC chairman Seán Fleming Photo: Tom Burke

The Dáil's spending watchdog is to quiz the general secretaries of various government departments over what it describes as the "serious deficiencies" highlighted by the Comptroller and Auditor General's annual report.

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The report raises concern about the lack of transparency surrounding the transfer of just under €2bn from central government to local authorities.

This compares to the transfer of €5.8bn in 2008.

The C&AG said the decrease is as a result of the transfer of responsibilities from local authorities to state agencies. The report points to the "complex picture" surrounding the transfer of money to councils.

Public Accounts Committee chairman Sean Fleming said it will invite the general secretaries of government departments as part of its investigations into the issue.

The report also examined the issue of fuel laundering. It said 15 filling stations were closed and 10 prosecutions for selling laundered fuel were initiated last year by the Revenue Commissioners.

Laundered

However, it said the issue was becoming less of a problem. In comparison, 57 filling stations were closed in 2012. A national sampling programme started in September found just under 3pc of 1,515 samples taken contained laundered fuel.

The figure increased to 4.9pc in the border, west and Midlands region.

The report detailed how there had been over 1,000 cases of waste dumping as a result of diesel laundering since 2008, costing €6.7m to clean up.

Most of the clean up operations were in Co Louth (539 cases) and Co Monaghan (459 cases).

Some 142 cases last year led to a clean-up bill of over €500,000.

Although the Revenue said fuel laundering was becoming less of a problem, the report recommended that it produce estimates of the loss to the Exchequer. Revenue officials are due to appear in front of PAC later this month to answer questions on the issue.

Irish Independent

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