I don't think anyone has remarked on the irony that we are back with an April budget. It was only in 2001 that we shifted the fiscal year to coincide with the calendar year - one of Charlie McCreevy's reforms. We abandoned most of these budget reforms to get the October budget (when John Bruton finally lost the title of Worst Budget!)
The Department of Finance today published a series of pre-budget documents which answer some of the questions the Opposition have been asking.
There are two tables showing pre-budget estimates of expenditure, one gross and one net. The gross figures include expenditure from the National Training Fund (Training Levy) and from the Social Insurance Fund (PRSI). Expenditure on Central Fund services is not included, regrettably, because this would show debt servicing costs.
There is a document called "Pre-Budget Outlook Aggregate Figures" which gives the broad parameters of the budget.
The deficit is projected at -12.75% of GDP before the supplementary budget. An appendix to that document shows Government expenditure broken down by Department (Vote). There is a marked increase in Social and Family Affairs: almost €4Bn. in current expenditure.
The only other hefty increase on the current side is for Agriculture which get €135M Increases on the capital side include Energy, Comm, NR where there is an extra €52M (interconnector?) and in Education, particularly on capital (school buildings?), Almost everywhere else is being cut, especially on the capital side, where borrowing could be justified as investment but the vested interests are less vocal . Capital expenditure is down 12.6% over last year but current expenditure is up 7.5%
A note for the media says the rest of the information will only be available on Budget Day including the Revised Estimates i.e. the figures for expenditure after the Budget measures