Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

73m euro paid in Government fees

Taxpayers have paid out 73 million euro in fees to Government consultants and financial experts, the C and AG report has found

Taxpayers have paid out 73 million euro in fees to financial experts, lawyers and other consultants contracted by the Government since the financial crisis hit.

The state's spending watchdog revealed the bulk of the costs since 2008 went on financial advice at 35.1 million euro while legal and accountancy expertise combined accounted for 38 million euro.

The Comptroller and Auditor General's (C&AG) annual report found advice on recapitalising and restructuring the state's six banks totalled almost 40 million euro, peaking in 2009 at 14.2 million euro.

The Government also had to pay out 22.9 million euro this year to carry out stress tests on the banks in March, which revealed another 24 billion euro was needed to keep them afloat, bringing the total bailout cost to 70 billion euro.

The report also found overpayment of welfare payments increased by 65% last year to 83.4 million euro.

Some 26 million euro was blamed on fraud but the C&AG said the Department of Social Protection could not provide a breakdown of how much money was recovered.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has revealed a clampdown on fraudsters, with an army of 600 inspectors set to track down social welfare cheats to save the exchequer 625 million euro next year.

Comptroller and Auditor General John Buckley also said the state has to pay up to 5.5 million euro this year to contractors involved in the private public partnership (PPP) arrangement for the M3 and Limerick Tunnel, as the Government is obliged to pay the PPP company if traffic falls under a certain level.

Elsewhere on the banking front, the C&AG report found 2.4 million euro has been spent on "crisis management" while 5.5 million has been spent on advice about nationalisation, liquidity and other issues.

The C&AG also found a new automated fingerprint identification system in the Garda Immigration Bureau cost five million euro more than expected at 23.13 million euro. Mr Buckley's office said despite the new system, there are still a significant number of fingerprints being taken by gardai using the manual "wet ink" system.

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