Radical shake-up of Budget process will kick off this year
A MAJOR overhaul of how the annual budget is drawn up will see the Government issue a mid-year report on spending and set up a new cross-party committee to give opposition TDs a larger input.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are likely to have an equal number of members on the 'Committee on Arrangements for Budgetary Scrutiny', while Sinn Féin, the Labour Party, smaller parties and Independents will also be represented.
Ministers will go before this cross-party committee to make the case for any increase in funding for their departments.
The first stage of the new approach will take place next month when Finance Minister Michael Noonan issues a belated 'Spring Economic Statement'.
He will provide the Dáil with an updated assessment of monies likely to be available on Budget Day. However, according to the Department of Finance it will be presented in "an entirely different way" from previous years with time allocated to all parties to debate the figures.
The Government also intends holding a National Economic Dialogue at the end of June.
And newly appointed Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe will also compile a mid-year expenditure report for the first time.
It will show expenditure trends to the end of June and revised targets for the 12-month period. Mr Donohoe will also set out spending limits for 2017-2019 taking into account forecasts for 2016.
Both the finance and public spending ministers will present their proposals for the revised approach to budget preparation to the Budgetary Committee once members are nominated by each party.
Mr Noonan said: "These new milestones in the budgetary cycle are intended to mark a decisive shift away from what has been characterised by the OECD as a disconnected series of annual set-piece events, replacing it with ongoing and active engagement with the Houses of the Oireachtas and its committees throughout the course of the budget cycle."
Paschal Donohoe described the change as "a major innovation" that will further empower the Dáil.