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A senator wants to stop the pre-budget 'kite flying'. Here's how...

Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames has proposed legislation that she says would put an end to the usual pre-budget speculation and leaks.

Image: Kite flying via Shutterstock

A FORMER GOVERNMENT senator has published a new Bill which would require the Finance Minister to make a statement on the fiscal risks facing the Irish economy every year which she claims would put an end to kite flying.

Reform Alliance senator Fidelma Healy Eames, who was expelled from Fine Gael over the abortion legislation last summer, has published a Bill which she says would “fundamentally transform the budgetary process” and put a stop to pre-budget speculation and leaks.

The Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Bill (2014) would require the Minister for Finance to publish and deliver a statement in the Dáil on the fiscal risks facing the country on 1 June every year.

“This document would set out to identify and mitigate the medium and long term risks to our nation’s balance sheet,” she said.

The Bill would also aim to ensure that statement would be presented in a “understandable and comprehensible” way so as that a “reasonably intelligent person can follow the contents and is not “bamboozled” about the true state of affairs”

The fiscal statement would act as a “baseline” for the debate on the Budget which now takes place in mid-October, Healy-Eames said. She said it would provide “an honest appraisal” of the public finances and would help to put a stop to “leaks and kite flying”.

She said: “The leaks and kite flying that goes on in advance of a budget to newspapers and the media is shameful.

“All it does is terrify those who are facing cuts or tax increases and does serious damage to the domestic economy in the short-term as people keep their money in their pockets until they see what fate awaits them.”

The second part of the Bill requires the Finance Minister to set out the programmes and services that are expected to be delivered within spending caps for each government department.

Healy-Eames added: “The legislation I have published sharpens government minds about the long-term fiscal consequences of short-term budgetary decisions and brings much greater transparency and fairness to the process.”

The government published its first ever National Risk Assessment in April of this year to set out the risks – both financial and non-financial – faced by the State “and therefore ensure appropriate prevention and mitigation measures are introduced”.

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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