Thursday 14 December 2017

PAC to investigate sale of government jet after report finds it sold for half its worth

The Government Jet
The Government Jet

Cormac McQuinn Political Correspondent

The Dáil's powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is to probe the sale of the government jet tomorrow after a report found it was disposed of for more than €300,000 less than it was worth.

The report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) raised questions about the sale of the Gulfstream IV aircraft in 2015.

The then-government was said to have taken the decision to sell the jet - which used to ferry ministers around the world - due to escalating repair costs.

The C&AG's report said an informal valuation estimated the aircraft's worth as below €750,000. It was sold for €418,000. Spare parts - later sold for €53,000 - were previously valued at more than €400,000.

The Defence Department insisted it was fully satisfied with the sale cost of the jet and the pare parts.

Representatives from the Department are set to appear before the PAC in the morning.

Committee chairman, Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming said the committee will examine the C&AG's report on the disposal of the jet.

"We will be keen to discuss the options that were considered in relation to the jet and if the most cost-effective approach was taken,” he said.

Officials from the Public Expenditure Department will also be in attendance to discuss the appropriation accounts for Defence as well as Army pensions.

Mr Fleming said that gross expenditure in 2015 was €671m.

Defence expenditure is largely devoted to developing, maintaining and deploying military capabilities, Mr Fleming said.

"Over 68pc of gross expenditure provided for the pay and allowances of Permanent Defence Force personnel, civilian employees and civil servants at year-end," he added.

Mr Fleming said issues of interest to the committee include receipts from banks for cash-in-transit escorts provided by the Defence Forces.

Officials will also be questioned on payments from the United Nations in respect of peacekeeping missions and the level of personal Injuries and employment case claims.

“In the context of Defence Forces pension schemes generally, we would be interested in how the arrangements in Ireland compare with the norms in other European defence forces," Mr Fleming said.

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