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New Bill to establish Howlin department

NEW legislation to formally establish the new Department for Public Expenditure and Reform has been published. Once it is passed by the Oireachtas it will give the new department, headed by Minister Brendan Howlin, the power to deal with public service and spending functions previously carried out by the Department of Finance.

Mr Howlin yesterday welcomed the new legislation and said the Government was committed to reform and ensuring the effective management of taxpayers' money, and the delivery of quality public services for the public.

"The Government is determined to modernise, renew and transform the way in which services are delivered," he said. "For the first time, functions and responsibility in relation to reform and modernisation of the public service will be reflected on a statutory basis. I hope the legislation will be given priority status in its passage through the Oireachtas."

Public service reform

The minister will deal with all aspects of reforming the public service. His duties will include superannuation, remuneration and appointment of staff, and terms and conditions of employment at public service bodies.

The Labour Party minister has already begun to deal with the public service sector and this week moved to block any future bonus payments to semi-state bosses by issuing written instructions telling the remuneration committees to stop these payments indefinitely.

The minister has instructed the civil servants who attend these committees to veto all future bonuses when they are dealing with chief executives' pay.

Responsibility for the management of overall government spending, including the management of the annual estimates process, will transfer from the Minister for Finance to Mr Howlin.

A number of offices that currently fall under the Department of Finance's remit will also transfer to the new department. These include the Commissioners of Public Works, the Public Appointments Service, the Commission for Public Service Appointments, the Valuation Office and the State Laboratory.

Irish Independent