Up to €5bn in public sector cuts identified

Tuesday 30 June 2009 23.09
Brian Lenihan - Will get report next week
Brian Lenihan - Will get report next week

The report of the Government's expenditure review group will not be presented to the Minister for Finance until next week.

The 'Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes', which is chaired by economist Colm McCarthy, is believed to have identified potential savings of up to €5bn.

The group had been expected to present their report this week.

The body is commonly known as 'An Bord Snip Nua'.

There has been extensive speculation on the scale and nature of the cutbacks identified, with areas ranging from social welfare and child benefit to garda staffing.

The Taoiseach has told the Dáil that he does not expect the report from 'An Bord Snip Nua' to be debated in the House before it rises for the summer recess on 10 July.

Earlier, the Opposition had criticised the use of tight time limits for debates on legislation.

Brian Cowen said he understands that the report is being finalised and is expected to be brought before the Government next week.

It is thought that some of the other proposals may include the amalgamation or abolition of certain Government departments or agencies.

If cuts are to be implemented staff will be expected to be flexible.

Increased flexibility in redeployment will become crucial in dealing with surplus staff if the cuts are to be implemented successfully.

Meanwhile during Leaders' Questions, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore asked the Taoiseach for an assurance that social welfare rates will not be cut.

Deputy Gilmore said that leaks of the 'An Bord Snip Nua' indicated the welfare budget will be reduced by 7% or €1.5bn.

The Taoiseach said all issues and options will have to be looked at as part of the December budgetary process, while staying mindful of the need to protect the most vulnerable.

He pointed out that welfare rates rose by 3.8% in the 2009 budget with predicted inflation at the time of 2.5%. But deflation of 4% is in order for this year.