Sunday 18 March 2018

Largely ignored council's key role is to inform the public

Chairman of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council John McHale
Chairman of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council John McHale
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

The Government may have an obligation to take the views of the Fiscal Advisory Council into consideration when framing budgets, but it doesn't have to accept its advice.

And for the most part, it hasn't. In 2011, amid uncertainty internationally and weak market reaction to Ireland, the council called for more austerity to ensure the Government was able to meet its deficit target. Though Budget 2012 was €200m worse than first anticipated, the Government opted not to go as far as advised by the council.

John McHale and his team pushed the Coalition to make the full €3.1bn adjustment in Budget 2014, and called for a precautionary credit line to ease the transition from bailout to full market access. But Michael Noonan declined the advice on each occasion.

Asked if the council's relevance is put into question by the Government's decision not to follow its advice, Mr McHale said a key role it plays is to inform the public.

"Our position on the fiscal stance is advice, and the Government gets to decide on that. But we also have a role in endorsing the macroeconomic forecasts underlying the Budget, and there the Government needs to take what we say on board."

Irish Independent

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