Thursday 26 April 2018

Loans will depend on weekly report card

Emmet Oliver

THE Government will have to give details every week to the IMF, the ECB and EU on how much it is taking in and spending. The number and pay rates of public sector workers will also have to be sent over every quarter.

The amount of information the Government will have to send to the IMF, ECB and EU represents an unprecedented flow of information to outside bodies.

The €85bn rescue package agreed with the EU/IMF/ECB is based on what is called "conditionality" -- or with conditions attached. This means that tranches of loans will only be paid out if certain targets are met -- and to strict deadlines.

The demand for a weekly update on the Government's cash position could stretch Government departments and state agencies, many of whom only compile such information on a monthly basis now.

The Government will have to meet a range of weekly targets, which could prove difficult to meet. Included are:

  • Information on the "main government spending and receipt items";
  • Information on the Government's cash position and where it comes from;
  • The assets and liabilities held in the Central Bank;
  • Detailed information on the deposits and loans held at the main banks.

Every month the following will also have to be supplied:

  • The current budget deficit/ surplus position;
  • Any guarantees given by the government or government agencies;
  • Details on any bonds that are maturing;
  • Information on any funding sources the Government is using;
  • Financial stability indicators like trends in the banks.

In terms of quarterly information, the list is also extensive, with the Government forced to provide:

  • The revenue and spending returns of local authorities;
  • The total for the public sector pay bill, the number of employees and their salaries;
  • The debts coming due at semi-state companies.

The document released yesterday does not say the three bodies are entitled to all this information, but simply that the reports "shall be made available'" to them.

Most companies have weekly information on their cash position, but most firms simply concentrate on monthly management accounts.

The latest demands for information will test a lot of state agencies, particularly the information request on salaries.

The pay scales and entitlements of public sector workers are complex and many areas of the public service have certain idiosyncrasies.

Most of these targets which must be met were set out in the four-year plan unveiled by the Government last week.

The Government will also introduce a fiscal responsibility law which comes with caps on the amount of spending that can be done each quarter.

The document released yesterday also refers to the sale of semi-states companies, with the proceeds being used to reduce the national debt. The IMF has admitted in recent days it should have done better seeing the Irish crisis coming.

Irish Independent

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