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Saturday 24 February 2018

Dail committee to probe widespread wastage

Shane Phelan

THE report by the state spending watchdog uncovered "monumental" waste, opposition parties said last night.

The Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will now probe many of Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) John Buckley's findings on squandered funds, revenue losses and inefficiency.

While some problems highlighted by Mr Buckley in previous years seem to have been rectified, many of the same institutions as before were highlighted for shortcomings in the wide-ranging report.

Repeat offenders, including the HSE, Department of Social Protection and FAS, are set for further scrutiny at the PAC.

Chairman Bernard Allen said he would be seeking answers as to why, in some instances, value for money was not achieved on state initiatives.

He said the report "draws attention to situations where public money may not have been prudently spent and where practices in state bodies and departments were lax".

Issues to be probed by the committee include:

  • Bank stabilisation measures, in particular Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide.
  • Delays in winding down or amalgamating quangos.
  • The stalled decentralisation project.
  • The use of public money for loosely defined fact-finding missions abroad.
  • Social welfare overpayments.
  • Tax write-offs.

Government reaction to the report was muted last night.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said he had not seen the report, but insisted issues raised by the C&AG would be acted on.

"He has raised issues over the years and we have brought changes," said Mr Ahern.

"There are circumstances where government will take on board what has been suggested. We're the first people that don't want to see wastage of taxpayers' money."

Labour TD Roisin Shortall said the report highlighted failures by the Department of Social Protection to clamp down on welfare cheats.

Fine Gael's enterprise spokesman Richard Bruton described the €43.8m worth of unused sites bought as part of the stalled decentralisation project as "a monument to Government arrogance".

Irish Independent

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