THE GOVERNMENT has insisted the EU-IMF Troika has no unease about the amounts the government claims to have saved under the Croke Park deal, following newspaper reports suggesting Ireland’s funders had ‘serious misgivings’ about the savings claimed.
In a statement this lunchtime the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said the Troika had “never expressed concern in respect of the Croke Park savings”.
This was “a fact that we have confirmed with the Troika today”, the statement added.
The statement followed a report in today’s Irish Times which claimed figures from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund were becoming concerned at the scale of the savings being achieved.
However, Stephen Collins’ article did not report any concerns that the savings reported under the deal – of some €920 million in its second year, and €1.5 billion in total.
The Department of Public Expenditure statement also elaborated on the guidelines mentioned by Grant Thornton in its independent review of the savings achieved.
The auditors’ report cited Department of Finance guidelines which suggested that non-pay savings should be estimated as equivalent to 40 per cent of the salaries of staff who have been laid off.
“The guidelines referred to by Grant Thornton are Regulatory Impact Assessment guidelines which were published in 2009 prior to the Croke Park Agreement, and have nothing to do with the calculation of Croke Park savings,” the statement said.
The statement said Grant Thornton had not discussed the approach of other departments in making those calculations, and it was a “total misrepresentation of the report” to suggest that departments other than the Department of Agriculture had used the 40 per cent method.
External accountants are engaged by the Implementation Body to independently evaluate samples of savings reported. They have reported on each occasion that they are satisfied with the reported savings.
In their report earlier this year Grant Thornton made clear that they were satisfied with the savings they examined including those of the Department of Agriculture. They concluded “the declared savings reported by management in each of the four projects were found to be reasonable estimates”.
The Department said they believed the auditors had spoken to Fine Gael backbencher Eoghan Murphy, whose concerns about potential overstatements led to an article in yesterday’s Sunday Independent, “and confirmed that they were satisfied with all the savings reported”.
“There is no conclusion in their report that savings were overestimated,” the statement affirmed.
Murphy is one of eight Fine Gael TDs to have today published a newspaper piece in which they call on the government not to treat allowances and increments as being covered under the Croke Park deal, and to cut them in the next Budget.