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McGuinness to seek meeting to explain €3.6bn accounting blunder

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011 – 07:05 PM

Public Accounts Committee chairman John McGuinness has said he will seek a meeting to discuss the €3.6bn “serious accounting error ” confirmed by the Department of Finance today.

Loans from the organisation which manages the nation’s debt to a housing agency were counted twice, doubling the debt, the Department of Finance has revealed.

The accounting mistake – involving the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) and the Housing Finance Agency (HFA), which finances house buying for councils – was due to be detailed in an economic review out this Friday.

The Department said the €3.6bn was lent by the NTMA, which recorded it as money owed, while the HFA also recorded it as a debt on its books – doubling the cost.

Deputy McGuinness said: “In the first instance the people need to know how this occurred, when it was discovered and how it was brought into the public domain.

“The impact on the country’s debt to GDP ratio, namely that it would be 2.3% lower as a result of the error being rectified, is very significant.”

Mr McGuinness said he had asked the clerk of the Public Accounts Committee to seek a report from each party, the Department of Finance and the NTMA.

“When this information is received, as I expect it will be in short order, this issue will be raised immediately with the appropriate accounting officers in each body before the Committee,” he said.

“The Public Accounts Committee must be able to get to the bottom of this and report on this matter to the Dáil.”

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