Sunday 21 January 2018

Kenny baffles all with plans for public job reform

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny

ine Kerr Political Correspondent

FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny yesterday revealed his plans for public sector reform -- and immediately triggered confusion with baffling answers about how he would get rid of 30,000 workers.

The party unveiled 100 proposals for overhauling the public sector and getting the economy back on track.

Many of the people to lose their jobs would be HSE staff, with new structures being created for the health service.

But Mr Kenny, beyond saying that some of those being made redundant would instead be hired by private insurance companies, was unable to say how many would get new positions.


According to Mr Kenny, these insurance companies will absorb "many" of the 28,000 people working in administration in the HSE.

Pressed repeatedly on the issue, the Fine Gael leader said: "You can't ask me to put a figure on it. . . it is our plan spread over five years."

Mr Kenny then sowed confusion with a declaration that no civil servant in his government would earn more than €200,000. But the Croke Park deal has effectively frozen public sector salaries until 2014 and there are legal barriers to imposing salary caps on the heads of state bodies.

Under the party's proposals to "radically overhaul" the public sector, is the abolition of 145 state bodies and agencies, including the HSE and FAS. Fine Gael believes that a staggering €5bn over five years can be saved by confronting waste, duplication and inefficiency across the public sector.

The party's enterprise spokesman Richard Bruton, the author of the 100 proposals, said earlier he expected "resistance" from unions.

But it was the party leader, and not the failed leadership contender Mr Bruton, who went on national radio later in the day to detail the proposals to the public. Party insiders admitted Mr Kenny appeared to "trip up" on the detail.

The much-anticipated policy document failed to spell out how exactly the party would reduce public numbers by 10pc, after it ruled out any immediate compulsory redundancies.

Instead, the party said, natural wastage and a voluntary redundancy package -- which was not costed in yesterday's document -- would have an impact.

Under the party's proposals to overhaul the health system, the HSE would cease to exist as competing health insurance companies would be responsible for contracting services on behalf of their subscribers.

The insurance companies would tender for medical packages and the people who were best placed to undertake this work are those currently employed in HSE administration, the Fine Gael leader said.

Mr Kenny said they would be "offered jobs, I'm quite sure".

There was more confusion when he claimed that cutting numbers by 10pc across the sector would only cost €1bn in redundancy packages.

One TD said they had received a dozen text messages after the interview. "The interview was poor. Enda just doesn't get the detail," the TD said.

Public sector unions were last night studying the Fine Gael document and would be expected to make their views known today.

Irish Independent

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