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Monday 14 October 2019

Statement from Dublin Port Company

Dublin Port (Stock photo)
Dublin Port (Stock photo)

Dublin Port Company is a State-owned commercial company responsible for the management, operation and development of Dublin Port - the largest and busiest port on the island of Ireland with a planned capital investment of €1bn over the next 10 years.

The company is well-managed, profitable and has a turnover of €90.4m which has grown by 28pc in the past 10 years. Dublin Port Company's total operating cost base is €43.6m.

All expenditure, including travel, subsistence and hospitality is disclosed in the company's financial accounts, which are independently audited and meet all reporting requirements and standards.

The highest standards of governance apply to robust processes and procedures on spending incurred in the legitimate course of doing business.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are used as an administratively efficient means of payment with strong audit control. Normal business purchases by credit card include flights, accommodation, corporate hospitality, company advertising, cruise marketing, staff Bike to Work scheme and Rail Saver tickets, motor tax and IT. All credit card expenditure is in line with the company's policy - only for business purposes, properly recorded, receipted and authorised, and subject to review by internal audit. The policy includes advance permission for all international travel, using economy class flights on short-haul routes and business class flights on long-haul routes. The policy also includes authorisation processes by senior management for each card, including the chiefexecutive's card which is approved by the chairperson.

In 2018, there were 22 credit cards in issue (among a staff total of 160). The total spend on credit cards in 2018 was €522,000 or 1.2pc of a total operating cost base of €43.6m.

Dublin Port Company's internal auditor reviews expenditure including on credit cards and reports directly to the Audit and Risk Committee of the board. No concerns have been raised about any expenditure.

The company's credit card policy is reviewed on an ongoing basis and updated regularly, most recently in May 2019 as a result of the move to a new credit card provider and the introduction of a new online system for reporting and approvals.

As a matter of policy, the company operates a Purchase Order based system. There are specified exceptions to the system in accordance with the company's procurement policy. These include one-off items which can be purchased more efficiently via credit card. Credit card holders are already authorised to purchase on behalf of the company in their role. They are subject to individual purchase authority limits appropriate to their function in the organisation.

Supporting Business Growth

Dublin Port has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years. By the end of 2018 the port had recorded 36pc growth in the past six years, and turnover increases of 38pc for the corresponding period.

Development works at Dublin Port are already advanced with construction of the Alexandra Basin Redevelopment Project under way and works commenced on the development of the 44-hectare Dublin Inland Port adjacent to Dublin Airport. Between now and 2040, other major development projects are envisaged on both the north side of the Port and on the Poolbeg Peninsula to complete the development vision of Masterplan 2040.

The Masterplan 2040 Reviewed 2018 is a strategic framework that informs the development of Dublin Port and to which all business activities are aligned in support of future growth, which will see the capacity of the port increased to cater for an ultimate capacity of 77 million gross tonnes. In support of this objective, the company's activities include:

* Travel

Overseas travel enables Dublin Port Company, amongst other factors, to learn best practice from international peers on a range of business issues, including seeing up close how other ports operate and manage similar capacity constraints. There are no other ports in Ireland of a comparative nature in this regard. The company's representation on or participation in leading European and international port organisations and programmes, including AIVP (Association Internationale Villes Ports / International Association of Ports Cities), ESPO (European Sea Ports Organisation) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development UNCTAD's Train for Trade provide valuable opportunities for the exchange of knowledge and training as the port modernises and expands.

* Port-City Integration Initiatives

The Masterplan also contains a clear commitment to greater port-city integration in support of business growth and development. This commitment has been well documented and evidenced through the company's "soft values" programme of community, arts, sporting, heritage and environmental initiatives. Recent examples include the refurbishment of the Diving Bell on Sir John Rogerson's Quay, an arts commissioning programme "Port Perspectives" and the creation of new public realm at Port Centre. The project at Port Centre included works to remove a section of the existing old boundary wall to create new pedestrian entry points at Alexandra Road and East Wall Road, Cor-ten steel entrance gates, a refurbished podium and the installation of new sculptures, a maritime garden and seating, new footbridge and relocated car parking facilities to the rear of the site, as well as a new landmark at the port-city interface using a refurbished crane from the 1960s. The capital expenditure on the project of €6.97m was fully reported to the board and approved.

* Competitive Tendering

All such expenditure is subject to competitive tendering and Board approval and is managed by the company's Programme Management Office, which over the last three years has completed capital projects to an aggregate value of €212m - all of which were competitively tendered. The nature of project development is such that some projects will come under budget and some will exceed budget. All variances are recorded and reported to the board quarterly. Under the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies the company reports on any non-competitive procurement in its comprehensive report to the minister. During 2018, 1.95pc of a total procurement spend of €98.6m did not go through competitive tendering.

Sunday Independent

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