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€78m underspend at Department of Agriculture
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€78m underspend at Department of Agriculture

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End-of-year figures indicate that 2017 was again a slow year for Government money to get out to farmers.
End-of-year figures indicate that 2017 was again a slow year for Government money to get out to farmers.

The Department of Agriculture spent €78m less than its budget allowed in 2017, according to preliminary figures published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

This was made up of €59m in unspent current expenditure and €19m in planned capital investments which did not happen.

This is the highest underspend of any Government department in Euro-terms.

Meanwhile, although operating on a much smaller budget, the Department of Rural and Community Development had the highest proportional underspend, with 11.6% of funds at its disposal unused at the end of the year.

’Ridiculous’

“The scale of unspent money is reflective of Department delays in issuing payments on time,” said Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on agriculture Charlie McConalogue, TD.

“Even though we are now into 2018, there are thousands of GLAS farmers who are still waiting on their 2017 advance payments. This is a ridiculous situation and is causing major problems for smaller family farms.”

This follows the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General last October, which revealed that the Department of Agriculture had returned more than €100m in unspent funds to the Exchequer in 2016.

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said at the time that any money earmarked for farmers’ payments under the 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme would be spent within that period.

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