Noonan's reshuffle to focus on planning

Kevin Doyle

AN INTERNAL reorganisation of the Department of Finance is to shift the focus on to economic planning and performance monitoring.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan is to oversee the establishment of a new Economics Division within his department.

A project management unit will also work on delivering commitments in the EU/IMF programme.

Full details of the reorganisation have yet to be worked out, but the Herald understands that the structures will be based around lessons learned from the economic crash. Among the new priorities to be outlined by the minister will be a new emphasis on economic planning, with an entire division now dedicated to economics.

The special section is working on foreseeing any major difficulties that might be coming down the pipeline -- such as a property collapse.

As of yet there are no indications of how many extra economics staff will be brought in to help with this work.

But it will be charged with providing a greater strategic focus, doing significantly more analysis of economic data than was done during the boom years and creating policy documents.

Another area that Mr Noonan wants to see improved is how we attract overseas investment.

He believes that Ireland needs to be more proactive in promoting the country abroad from an economic and financial perspective.


The department is now expected to target specific roadshows where they can present Ireland as an international financial hub.

An international division will deal with both external organisations and international economic opportunities.

The reorganisation will also set up a financial services division encompassing the IFSC and the domestic banking sector, and a fiscal division encompassing the traditional departmental functions of tax and budget policy.

It sets economic growth and employment creation as performance measures, and says it will promote pro-growth measures at EU and international level.

In a statement of principles, the Department said: "We must be prepared to play a greater and more robust role in challenging the advice we receive and questioning fully the direction adopted by others."

However, the changes come as the new secretary general of the Department of Finance warned that staff cuts are making it impossible to achieve targets set by the Government.

Kevin Moran complained that the fall in investment in the department makes some strategic goals too difficult to achieve.

"To continue with such reduced resources is not sustainable or advisable given the greater challenges facing the economy and financial sector," he said.