Tuesday 28 February 2017

State groups to detail credit card expenses

Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

STATE groups will be asked to provide details of how many of their staff members have company cars and credit cards.

The Public Accounts Committee said it would be a fruitful exercise to inform taxpayers and could prevent such information emerging piecemeal -- a clear reference to last year's scandal over excessive spending at FAS.

Fianna Fail TD Sean Fleming proposed the move after an examination of Department of Agriculture finances yesterday revealed that groups which fall under its remit -- such as farm advisory body Teagasc -- do not have to provide this level of detail on day-to-day finances.

Mr Fleming said that while he was not suggesting there was a problem with Teagasc, it received €119m in state funding so it was important to clarify how the money was spent.

Committee chairman John McGuinness suggested the committee should write to each state group asking for a breakdown of how many staff had company credit cards, what the spending limits were on these and the number of company cars in use.

The findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on farm inspections, outlined at the meeting, showed how a random trawl could highlight issues that could otherwise leak out months later, Mr McGuinness said.

The CAG John Buckley said semi-state bodies had to comply with state financial reporting and risk assessment requirements.

Mr Buckley said its review of Department of Agriculture inspections highlighted a surprising result that more penalties for non-compliance with EU requirements were imposed when farms were selected randomly, than when they were targeted on the basis of known risk factors.

Irish Independent

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