Tuesday 20 February 2018

Government policy lacks dot-joining skills of a toddler

Instead Mad Hatter logic prevails in the 'Alice in Wonderland' political world, writes Marc Coleman

Before children learn to talk, they learn to join dots. Endless hours with crayons and colouring books are a staple of happy childhood memories. But while government policy usually manages to look like it has been scrawled out in crayon by a toddler, last week the Government proved once again that it lacks the essential dot-joining skills that most of us acquire by the age of four.

Take the issue of taxation to start with. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin. Last Friday, the Local Government Efficiency Review Group decided to redefine the concept of achieving efficiency savings by extending tolls to our national roads. By coincidence, I heard the news on the radio while driving along the most expensive stretch of road in Europe, that new stretch of motorway between Craughwell and Galway, each metre of which cost more than prime Paris real estate.

As the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) pointed out in 2004, this failure -- and the skyrocketing land prices that resulted -- were key reasons for a staggering cost overrun of €9bn on roads which were part of the 1999-2006 National Development Plan.

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