Tag Archives: Brian Cowen

No news is good news … perhaps

Extracts from the Joint Communiqué issued after the 11th Plenary Meeting of the North South Ministerial Council on 21 January 2011:

3. Ministers discussed a range of common challenges and shared views on the economy, the banks and NAMA. They recognised the constraints on budgets in both jurisdictions and the ongoing discussions between the two Finance Ministers to identify potential cost savings through co-operation and sharing were welcomed. There was a desire to maximise access to EU funding and
resources.

6. Ministers noted the Progress Report on the ten NSMC meetings which have been held since the last Plenary meeting in July 2010 and welcomed the mutually beneficial co-operation taken forward including that:

[…] The restoration of the Royal Canal to reconnect it to the Shannon has  been completed and a preferred route for the Clones to Upper Lough Erne section of the Ulster Canal has been identified.

No exciting announcement there, so the bulldozers have not yet been set rolling on the Clones Canal. Phew. Maybe we’ve had to choose between the canal to Clones and the road to Londonderry/Derry and the road has won ….

Cost-benefit analysis

Here is an extract from what Mr Cowen, then Minister for Finance, said in Dáil Éireann (Volume 631) on 15 February 2007 about the National Development Plan:

Value for money is also a central theme in the delivery of the planned investment. Most of the capital projects, notably in the key area of transport, are being delivered on or below budget and, in some instances, ahead of schedule. Building on this performance, all expenditure under the National Development Plan 2007-2013 will be subject, as appropriate, to a robust value for money framework.

Among the key elements of this framework are that all projects will be subject to project appraisal, all capital projects over €30 million will require a full cost benefit analysis, the introduction of new procurement arrangements which will deliver greater cost certainty and evaluations under the value for money and policy reviews will be published and submitted to the relevant select committees of the Oireachtas.

In the coming period, my Department will be elaborating on the monitoring process to be put in place to measure progress under the plan. We envisage a streamlined, focused ap proach whereby progress can be readily assessed by reference to relevant financial and physical indicators. We will avoid the bureaucratic, committee-laden reporting process under previous plans, which was a source of dissatisfaction as expressed in the consultation process. The emphasis will be on efficient delivery and transparent reporting. A key new feature is the formal submission of an annual report on plan progress to the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The Clones Canal, stated to cost €35 million, clearly falls into the category of projects for which a full cost benefit analysis is required.

So where is it?