Thursday, 30 April 2009

More money than sense - how our tax money was wasted

The Gombeen Manor DVD machine was on the go on Wednesday evening, recording TV3’s “More Money Than Sense: How We Wasted Millions”. I only got around to looking at it now, but it is well worth writing a summary of some of the ways the Government wasted taxpayers’ money during the ‘boom’ years.

  • In 2007, FAS spent €5.7 on travel and “other expenses”.

  • €52 million was spent on e-voting machines, and €2.5 on storing them until the recent decision to finally scrap them.

  • The renovation of Cork Courthouse was to cost €3.8 million. The final cost was €26 million.

  • In 1997 the education budget was €2.9 billion. In 2007 it had spiralled to €8.3 billion. This money was spent on wage costs rather than capital programmes. As a result, between 2006 and 2008, €112 million was spent on renting pre-fabs. This year alone we will spend €48 renting these temporary structures.

  • Ballymun regeneration project was estimated to come in at €442 million, to date they have spent €942 million, and it is still not complete.

  • €12,000 was spent on curtains for the Ceann Comhairle’s (Chairman of the Irish Parliament) office.

  • €700,000 was wasted promoting the speaking of Gaelic in other countries.

  • The National Aquatic Centre cost €63 million to build. Despite this, the roof leaked before it eventually blew off. Gone with the wind… just like our tax money.

  • In 1997 the health budget was €3.2 billion. In 2007 it had reached €13.6, for no appreciable return. Many hospitals did not have beds and in other hospitals wards were actually shut due to “lack of funding”.

    Some of that waste can be accounted for by the €220 expenditure on P-PARS, the health service payroll system that cannot process annual leave, sick leave and bank holidays for the service’s 70,000 employees. Indeed one staff member was surprised to find his monthly pay slip was made for the sum €1 million – way above even the benchmarked rates. Speaking of which…

  • Benchmarking was first implemented in 2001, and has resulted in our civil service becoming one of the most costly in Europe.

  • Three public tribunals, Mahon, Moriarty and Morris, cost a total of €434 million. And while the tribunals were a necessary purging of the poor standards in Irish public life, it is apparent that they could have been run in a way that presented value for the taxpayers, rather than the lawyers. Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern, was belatedly (and very reluctantly) forced to resign when the above revealed irregularities in his finances, including signing blank cheques and “dig-outs” from business acquaintances.

  • €220,000 was spent on a new office for Bertie Ahern.

  • Flood relief scheme for Kilkenny estimated at €13 million. It eventually cost €48 million.

  • Government invested in Medialab Europe Project. It folded in 2005, at a cost of €35 million.

  • In 1997, €151 million was spent on “special projects”. By 2007 this figure had risen to €2.8 billion. As an example, the Dublin Port Tunnel project cost €752 million… €302 million more than originally estimated.

  • Dublin’s tram system, the Luas, was three years late, with a cost overrun of €471 million (actual cost €750 million).

  • In 2005 the Government purchased land for Thornton Hall, a new prison and mental hospital. They paid €200,000 an acre, when comparable land nearby was valued at €26,000 an acre. Furthermore, the final cost of €29.9 million overshot the original estimate of €10 million.

  • In 2003, Punchestown Racecourse got a “grant” of €15 million. Punchestown was in Charlie McCreevy's Kildare constituency.

  • Our semi-orbital road, the M50, was built with public money – with the exception of the bridge over the River Liffey, which was given to National Toll Roads. Now the Government is buying it back from NTR, at the rate of €50 million a year until 2020.

  • McCreevy’s decentralisation programme – an expensive election stunt – has been a flop by any standards. We have spent €24 million on empty buildings and fields, bought when the property boom was in full swing.

  • Leinster House to get a new lawn for €200,000.

  • Integrated ticketing system for public transport has cost €42 million to date – and we still do not have integrated ticketing.

  • The Department of Defence sold four helicopters for €360,000. The company that bought them sold them on for €19 million.

  • We have all written out a blank cheque – Bertie style – for the bank bailout. They reckon it could cost us €90 billion, but nobody knows for sure.

“Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”, as Johnny Rotten once said.

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Ella said...

Hi GM, I don't believe it. You know what it makes EUR 1,000 to change 3 light bulbs look (almost) reasonable.

Das.Ding said...

This left me speechless.....

The Gombeen Man said...

Yes, folks - it really is incredible. The place is more Rotten than our friend Johnny.

thing fish said...

I add up the stated overuns to come in at about:

Eur 37 Billion.

Imagine if the govt had that money stashed away to use today?

Where did the money go? who made out on these contracts?

Harald75 said...

far beyond relief ...
thx for writing this one down, GM

The Gombeen Man said...

No problem, Harald - I'm glad people have found it of interest. I think it was worth doing, as it's too easy to miss the detail when watching a TV programme.

€37 billion, as Thing Fish estimates, is a hell of a lot of money that should have been to good use.