Tuesday 24 October 2017

Finance to spend €9m on outside consultants

Michael Noonan
Michael Noonan
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

THE Department of Finance has set aside about €9m for outside consultants this year.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said most consultancy fees go toward legal issues, including fighting cases taken against the department.

Some €700,000 has been pencilled in to pay experts to implement the Medium Term Economic Strategy, unveiled after the state left the bailout programme last year, the Oireachtas Sub Committee on Finance heard yesterday.

However, the estimated money to be spent overall by the department will be down this year on 2013.

Mr Noonan, pictured, told the Sub Committee that no money was being wasted and claimed the department could not be expected to have extensive expertise in-house.

"In a public service which is by its nature generalist, expertise is always required and expertise is brought in by getting consultancy. It's cost-effective when it's operated properly," Mr Noonan said. "I would argue very strongly that there's no waste of money in this respect in the Department of Finance."

Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty said about €3.8m was actually spent in 2013. About €2m of the €3.3m in legal fees last year was recouped, the committee heard. The estimated spend last year was about €1m less than this year.

Mr Noonan said that having permanent in-house experts would be like running a hotel and "you'd have painters and electricians and plumbers on permanent staff in-house rather than hiring them in".

A spokesman for the minster said the lion's share of the money would go on banking services, which also includes legal fees.

Irish Independent

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