GAELTARRA ÉIREANN—CAPITAL ADVANCES
An Coiste um Chuntais Phoiblí.
At the meeting of the Committee on 4 April I undertook to furnish a note in amplification of paragraph 67 of the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the Appropriation Accounts for the year 1971-72.
Capital funds are provided for Gaeltarra Éireann from two sources: —advances from the Central Fund, issued by the Department of Finance at the request of Roinn na Gaeltachta, to meet expenditure on buildings and plant for Gaeltarra’s own industries, purchase of land, erection of buildings for letting and purchase of shares in associate companies and —grants-in-aid from the Vote for Roinn na Gaeltachta, issued by Roinn na Gaeltachta with the consent of the Department of Finance, to meet expenditure on grants by Gaeltarra for the promotion of industries.
Gaeltarra’s capital allocation for the year 1971-72 was £1,150,000 made up of £475,000 advance and £675,000 grant-in-aid. That division of the overall allocation was based on estimates which proved unreliable and, after consideration of revised estimates and consultation with the Department of Finance, Gaeltarra was informed on 8 November 1971 that payments would be made in accordance with that division on the understanding that overexpenditure of the order of £275,000 for advance purposes would be balanced by corresponding underexpenditure for grant-in-aid purposes. Before the end of December 1971 the entire advance of £475,000 originally allocated for the financial year had been issued to Gaeltarra. In February 1972 Gaeltarra gave particulars of estimated expenditure of £275,000 for advance purposes and received an issue of £275,000 for grant-in-aid purposes. As events turned out on 31 March 1972 (after a further issue of £250,000 for grant-in-aid purposes on 7 March) Gaeltarra’s accounts showed:
—a grant credit balance higher than £275,000 and
—an advance debit balance lower than £275,000.
Both balances were cleared in 1972-73:
—the grant credit balance on payment of various grants by Gaeltarra for the promotion of industries and
—the advance debit balance on the issue of the next instalment of advance by the Department of Finance.
Perhaps it would have been more satisfactory to arrange in 1971-72—as was in fact done in 1972-73—for issue of:
—more than originally allocated by way of advance and
—less than originally allocated by way of grant-in-aid.
Issue of funds from the grant-in-aid to enable Gaeltarra to pay grants for the promotion of industries is, however, a continuous process and there may be a balance on Gaeltarra’s hands at any particular time—including the end of a financial year. Such a balance falls to be spent for the purpose for which the issue was made and there can be no question of its expenditure for other purposes. Gaeltarra’s accounts are, of course, audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
A system of weekly returns was introduced in 1973 so as to keep Gaeltarra’s capital balances under constant observation.
I trust the foregoing information adequately clarifies the position and, in particular, I should like to emphasise that no grant-in-aid moneys have at any time been issued from the Vote for Roinn na Gaeltachta for purposes other than those for which they were voted.
Roinn na Gaeltachta.
17 Aibreán, 1974.