The cuts are proposed in a new report drawn up by the Central Expenditure and Evaluation Unit (CEEU) in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The paper says that "strong political direction" will be needed to bring urgent completion to the rationalisation and abolition of State agencies.
These include free travel for pensioners, legacy allowances for gardai, free childcare and the free school bus scheme. The detailed paper also recommends that third-level fees should be reintroduced, Dublin Bus should be partly or totally privatised and the TV licence fee should be incorporated into the household charge.
An "immediate hitlist" of 44 state boards has been drawn up with those listed set to be abolished or merged. A further 50 are on a warning list for further rationalisation. Some of the specific measures now under consideration by Mr Howlin’s department include:
* the €76m Early Childhood Care/Educational scheme (ECCE) and the National Childcare Investment Programme (NCIP) should both be abolished.
* The current third-level contribution should be scrapped and be replaced by "some form of third-level fee", saving €200m a year.
* the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, which costs €220m a year, should be abolished. "At a time where farm incomes are rising, the current scenario where 72 per cent of the country is classified as disadvantaged is obviously too broad," the report states.
* Farmers could face further pain with the report saying there exists "no economic rationale" for the State to meet the current costs of the meat inspection regime or the European suckler cow welfare scheme (€66m a year).
* The Irish Film Board should be abolished.
- "It would make good administrative sense for the TV licence fee to be incorporated into the household charge."
* the abolition of the post-primary school transport system, introduced by Donagh O’Malley in 1968, which could result in savings of €70m.
* the report says "the ongoing priority of the free travel scheme . . . in the wider expenditure context must be questioned", "the dead weight in the system" should be removed.
* Other free schemes, such as the fuel allowance, electricity allowance, free television licence, telephone and gas allowances, should all be consolidated into one single household utilities allowance, the report states. The report also suggests that a "fresh look" be taken at a range of "legacy allowances" including rent, premium payments and non-public duty allowances for gardai.
Also, the privatisation of Dublin Bus either in part or whole, the axing of Udaras na Gaeltachta, the gaeltacht development agency and an Comisineir Teanga, which supervises the translation into Irish of public documents. The department overview is that this would save €15m a year.
Included on the list of 44 state bodies identified for rationalisation, amalgamation or abolition include: an Bord Iascaigh Mhara; The Heritage Council; Culture Ireland; the Digital Hub; 35 city and council enterprise boards; the Companies Registration Office; Forfas; Shannon Development, the Labour Court, the Labour Relations Commission; the Employment Appeals Tribunal and the Health and Safety Authority.
In firing line for savage cuts — young, old and vulnerable, Sunday Independent, January 8th 2012 -