Belfast Telegraph

Finance department 'needs revamp'

A government-ordered investigation into the Department of Finance has found it needs to "remake itself" urgently to help the country recover.

Independent experts charged with reviewing the department in the lead-up to the crash said the Finance Minister also needs to more accountable.

In their report, the experts called for an overhaul of the Department of Finance, better budgetary planning and for official analysis to be opened up to public scrutiny.

"The department needs to be more effective and needs to remake itself," they said. "This requires a series of changes of structure, professional capacity and internal working methods, together with a more outward-looking attitude. These issues need to be addressed urgently."

Outgoing Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said the findings were fair and thoughtful. He said: "While a number of recommendations are matters for the new Government and require further consideration, a significant number relate to organisation, skills set and work practices - many of which are being implemented without delay," he said.

The Independent Review Panel was headed up by Canada's former deputy finance minister Rob Wright and included Dutch government official Hans Borstlap along with John Malone, former secretary general of the department of agriculture.

They found the Department of Finance did give the Cabinet clear warnings about its economic strategy and the risks involved in the years running up to the collapse.

The experts suggest the Government bowed to high expectations to share out the fruits of the Celtic Tiger and political pressure for better public services while Ireland was being hailed an economic success model internationally. "The underlying dangers were either missed or ignored," they said.

The Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants (AHCPS) claimed it was not aware of officials and advisers not being forceful enough with ministers.

General secretary Dave Thomas said: "I don't know what it means by that. Normally a civil servant goes in and gives that advice. It is a political decision then. When I read it I thought what did they want them to do, grab Charlie McCreevy by the lapels?"

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