Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General - Press Release on the 1998 Annual Report

Media Release for 8 October 1999

Comptroller and Auditor General's Report on the 1998 Appropriation Accounts

The Annual Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Appropriation Accounts for 1998 is being presented to Dáil ?reann today.

Volume 1 contains the Annual Report which is a composite commentary on the results of the financial audit of the various Government Departments and Offices.

Volume 2 contains the audited Appropriation Accounts which compare the outturn against the moneys granted by Dáil ?reann for the range of services provided by Government Departments and Offices.

The Report draws attention to weaknesses in management and controls and also to instances where the Comptroller and Auditor General deemed it appropriate that there should be a public accountability. The issues raised in the Report will form the main basis for the Public Accounts Committee's programme of examinations in the coming months.

It is important to emphasise that the Report should be viewed in the context of the many services provided by Departments which are well managed and controlled. Attached is a quick reference guide to some of the main items in the Report.

The Report is also available on our website. www.irlgov.ie/audgen

For further information, please contact Mr Joe Meade

Secretary and Director of Audit

Telephone: (01) 6793122 Fax:(01) 6793288

E-Mail: joe_meade@audgen.irlgov.ie

Referendum Commission

The Amsterdam Treaty and Northern Ireland Agreements Referendum campaigns cost ?4.3m. Administrative procedures were unsatisfactory.

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Revenue

?216m of tax was written off in 1998 under new procedures introduced the previous year.

The amount of outstanding tax continues to fall - it stood at ?1,167m at the end of May 1999. Revenue estimate that ?541m of this is likely to be collected.

?160m of extra tax was assessed following Revenue audits.

Six cases brought to court in 1998 for tax evasion resulted in successful prosecutions.

The yield from and execution of judgment mortgages for arrears of tax is poor.

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Office of the Chief State Solicitor

An internal irregularity in the Office could be of the order of ?61,000.

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Justice, Equality and Law Reform

The administration of the Irish Council of People with Disabilities which received ?1.2m in State funds in 1997/1998 has been problematical.

The original estimated cost for the Castlerea Prison Perimeter Wall was ?3.57m. The job was done for ?1.2m by a contractor who was not originally short-listed to tender for the job.

A design and build project for Castlerea Prison was completed at a cost of ?14.3m. Better specification of requirements by the Department could have avoided additional costs arising during the course of the project.

Lack of co-ordination between State agencies contributed to the failure to settle a personal injuries compensation claim at lower cost to the State.

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Environment and Local Government

Tara Street fire station - a design and build project - though intended to cost ?2.4m cost ?4.4m. There was a ?1m state contribution to the project.

There were significant cost overruns on some water supply and sewage schemes .

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Marine and Natural Resources

Afforestation grants were paid and compensation is arising on forestry plantations which have failed due to soil conditions (?760,000 to date). The soil conditions were known to exist since the 1950s.

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Agriculture and Food

?3.5m paid to date on a new accounts system, designed to improve controls, which was to operate from 1998. Difficulties have arisen and the system is not expected to be functional until late 2000.

Improved recovery procedures for overpayments of ?1.8m on various EU schemes are being undertaken.

Special arrangements made for overtime working at some meat factories for departmental staff resulted in overtime totalling ?536,000 being paid to 6 officers in the four years 1995-1998.

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Health and Children

A large unfunded deficit (,?26m) on the GMS (Payments) Board accounts existed at 31 December 1998.

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Social Community and Family Affairs

?22m in overpayments arose during 1998. ?10.7m was due to fraud or suspected fraud.

43 employers and 117 persons were prosecuted during 1998 for breaches of the Social Welfare Schemes.

Of the ?1.9m in overpayments arising from the payment of Equal Treatment arrears only ?100,000 will be recovered.

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National Debt

At 31 December 1998 the national debt was ?29,541m with debt service costs of ?2,410m paid in 1998.

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The contents of this page were last updated on 26/09/03