Nment implements 80% O recommendations in 2016
student population had only increased by three per cent.
In their justification, which was rejected by the NAO, MEDE said that costs could not simply be compared to student populations, highlighting that the three new church schools had opened since 2011, which in total have 127 teaching grades, resulting in an increase of 85 teachers within five years.
Recent collective and sectoral agreement have increased church school expenses by 2.5 per cent, while the increase in Learning Support Assistants (LSAs), the number of lessons, the introduction of new subjects and new services have also played a factor.
The MEDE then elected to seek envelope funding to meet church school financial requirements. On the NAO’s recommendation, a task has been appointed to explore this, while monthly reconciliations have also been initiated to ensure that there is no over or underspending.
The lack of documentation to support budget allocation was also a concern, with the relevant documentation made available four weeks after the NAO’s request, despite numerous reminders. Workings provided showed a budgeted expenditure of slightly more than €62 million; however, no consideration was given to the annual interest for church schools, which amounted to €3.5 million.
In its justification, which was also rejected by the NAO, the ministry said that the documentation was late because the Director for Finance and Administration was abroad. With regard to the interests, the ministry said that it was deducted from the salaries due to schools as indicated in audited accounts. and that no auditing procedures could be carried out to ascertain the accuracy and validity balances, which have also hindered the reconciliation of vacation leave donated. The Ministry for Home Affairs insisted that the reconciliation of leave and TOIL balances have been available from January 2016, while the hourly rate and overtime have been settled according to regulations.