The head of the watchdog which monitors Ireland's public finances has raised questions about how commitments in the programme for government will be financed.

The acting chair of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, Sebastian Barnes, said there were questions about how the State's plan to transform healthcare, called Sláintecare, would be funded.

He told the Oireachtas Covid-19 committee that the plans in the Programme for Government were welcome and affordable as long as the right fiscal decisions were taken.

The Council told the committee that Sláintecare would add €3 billion annually to spending.

Representatives of the Council were asked to provide further details of the estimates by Roisin Shorthall of the Social Democrats, who said the costings were very much out of line with the figures forecast in recent years.

Mr Barnes also said there was uncertainty about the economic outlook, including how SMEs and individual households will respond to the pandemic and said restoring confidence was important.

He said part of that is having a plan for the medium term for how the economy is going to go, "for example with issues like climate change and pensions" that otherwise he said might hang over people like a cloud.  

IFAC acting chair Sebastian Barnes said it is very helpful that there is a clearer target in the area of climate change policies and that "hopefully the economic plans can be aligned to make sure it can be achieved in the way that is effective and consistent with the sustainability of the public finances". 

Fianna Fáil's John McGuinness has said there is nothing really factual in the programme for the government, in terms of costing, that "we don't know where that programme is going to end up or indeed how much of it will be implemented". 

He asked Mr Barnes if there is a commitment for no increase in taxes in the programme for government and if borrowing will continue, what is the forecast for how much Ireland will owe and how it will be paid for. 

Mr Barnes said the debt was €200bn.

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Dr Eddie Casey, chief economist with the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, said Ireland would need to borrow around €14bn this year with an additional €14bn next year. 

Sinn Féin's finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty asked about the stimulus that is required, what proportion would be appropriate this year. 

Mr Barnes said while it was too early to judge, he said €10bn would be enough to support the economy.

Mr Doherty asked whether that would be too modest, adding that employers group IBEC had argued for €22bn.