Ministers at odds with HSE over shortfall
on 04/10/2013 00:00:00
Fine Gael TD for Wicklow Simon Harris raised concerns that the HSE may only manage budget reductions of just over €100m via the pay and perks plan agreed with unions over the summer as a replacement to the Croke Park Deal.
Asked if the Government had been informed by the HSE that it could not meet the €150m reduction, the public expenditure reform department's secretary general Robert Watt said the matter was being discussed.
He told the committee: "There are disagreements, there are discussions about some elements of that and issues around the exact quantum of some of the savings and measures but we believe that the full savings can be delivered and next year.
"In health there is an issue about the overlap between Croke Park and Haddington Road because there is some unfinished business which is rolling into Haddington Road. So, in fairness, there are some issues there around the implementation which we will grapple with but we are confident that we can make the savings and we are working with the Department of Health, the HSE to ensure that the savings are made."
Mr Harris also expressed concern about how the public sector recruitment moratorium was being implemented as he said requests to hire specialist medical staff had been refused, while 10 new legal clerks had been appointed to judges even though An Board Snip Nua had called for that category of court staff to be abolished.
Fianna Fáil's Sean Fleming accused the public expenditure reform department of throwing a cloak of "secrecy" around organisations such as Nama and the National Treasury Management Agency by excluding probes into the terms and conditions of highly paid employees at the bodies in new freedom of information legislation.
Mr Fleming said as the agencies controlled billions of euro worth of public money they should be fully open to scrutiny by taxpayers and the media.
Mr Watt insisted the FoI changes would open up the legislation which was curbed under the previous Fianna Fáil administration.
TDs also raised concerns that some public employees had been paid for jobs they no longer did after moving to different areas of the civil service.