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Dept of Finance, CSO and NTMA officials face questioning over 'accounting error'

The department’s secretary-general, due to take up a position with an EU fiscal watchdog next year, is to appear before the PAC today.

Image: Images_of_Money via Creative Commons

THE PUBLIC ACCOUNTS Committee is to question the head of the Department of Finance over an accounting error in which a €3.6 billion payment between the state agencies the NTMA and the Housing Finance Agency was counted twice.

Minister Noonan said yesterday that he had recently been made aware of the error, but that the NTMA had contacted the department a year ago to query how the €3.6 billion was being treated in the public accounts – and did nothing about it.

Speaking in the Dáil, Noonan blamed “human error on behalf of one individual” for the mistake.

The error means that that state’s outstanding debt is 2.3 per cent of GDP less than previously calculated, but is not expected to make any impact on the coming Budget.

Secretary General of the Department of Finance Kevin Cardiff is due to take up a new position with the European Court of Auditors in March of next year. Speaking to Breakfast on Newstalk yesterday morning, chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) John McGuinness questioned the appointment.

The European Court of Auditors assesses the sound management of the public funds of EU citizens.

McGuinness also criticised what he termed the finance department’s “culture” of ignoring outside sources, including the PAC, when receiving recommendations. He said the PAC had contacted the department 22 times with recommendations on a number of issues last year, but had not received any response.

The Fianna Fáil TD said yesterday that he was seeking a report from the parties involved in the issue for a committee investigation into the error. Officials from the department, the NTMA and the CSO are to appear before the PAC today.

Read: Department of Finance was told about the €3.6bn mistake last year – but did nothing >

Read: Tax intake €2 billion higher than last year but still behind target >

Read: Taoiseach to address the nation on state of Irish economy >

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