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Sunday 17 November 2019

Savings under Croke Park deal 'not exaggerated'

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE Government has rejected claims it exaggerated savings made under the Croke Park Agreement, as confusion reigns over how much has been shaved off the public sector pay bill.

It was claimed that some government departments inflated their savings by 40pc when they were being reported to the Croke Park Implementation Body, which oversees the agreement.

This led to claims the Government had not saved as much as it said under Croke Park, but this has been rejected by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Eoghan Murphy, Fine Gael TD for Dublin South-East, a member of the Public Accounts Committee, raised the issue, saying a "potential numbers problem needs to be addressed".

An audit into the agreement by Grant Thornton revealed some departments increased savings made through the Croke Park Agreement by 40pc.

The extra amount was added up to "non-pay" savings, such as "overheads" reformed work practices, relocating staff and closing offices.

The Government says Croke Park has saved almost €1.5bn to date, with €678m coming from non-pay areas and €810m coming from core pay, as a result of fewer people working in the public sector.

A spokeswoman for Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin last night said: "The pay savings from numbers reductions are based on the average pay of employees. We do not include overhead estimates in calculating pay savings and the reports regarding this are not correct.''

She added: ''Savings figures are not over-estimated and are an accurate reflection of the savings made."

The extra 40pc came to light when the Department of Agriculture refused to add it on its non-pay savings, because it felt it wasn't justified.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said his department was "simply being accurate" -- but said other departments were entitled to add the 40pc on.

Irish Independent

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