Murphy establishes Fiscal Council and Commission

Date published: 12 March 2021

Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has announced the establishment of a Fiscal Council and a Fiscal Commission.

Finance Minister Conor Murphy

Making the announcement, Conor Murphy said: “The establishment of the Fiscal Council and the Fiscal Commission represents a real step forward for the public finances.

“Putting the Fiscal Council in place will bring greater transparency and independent scrutiny to the Executive’s finances. It will be a stand-alone and permanent body, focussing initially on the Executive’s draft 2021-2022 Budget.”

Turning to the Fiscal Commission Minister Murphy said “There have already been comprehensive examinations of the fiscal powers of the Assemblies in Scotland and Wales. The Fiscal Commission will provide a similar review here.

Commenting on the membership of the bodies Murphy continued “I am delighted that for both the Fiscal Council and Fiscal Commission we have such outstanding Chairs and members. They will bring significant experience in economics, public finances and fiscal matters to these important pieces of work.”

The Fiscal Council will be chaired by Sir Robert Chote who brings a wealth of experience to the post. He chaired the Office of Budget Responsibility for the last decade and is Chair of the external advisory group of the Irish Parliamentary Budget Office. The other members of the council will be:

  • Professor Alan Barrett – Chief Executive Officer of the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin
  • Dr Esmond Birnie – Senior Economist at Ulster University
  • Maureen O’Reilly – economist and advisor to a number of private sector and public bodies

Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) will Chair the Fiscal Commission. Paul will be supported by:

  • Professor Iain McLean – Professor of Politics at Oxford University
  • Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan – Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Ulster University
  • Dr Lisa Wilson – Senior Economist at the Nevin Economic Research Institute

Notes to editors: 

Notes to editors:

  1. Link to Written Ministerial Statement and Terms of Reference for both bodies: https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk/publications/establishment-fiscal-council-commission-written-ministerial-statement-and-terms-reference
  2. The Chair of the Fiscal Council will be paid a daily rate of £750 per day while Fiscal Council members will be paid a daily rate of £340 per day.
  3. The Chair of the Fiscal Commission will be paid £1,500 for a time commitment of 50 days while Fiscal Commission members will be paid a daily rate of £340 per day.
  4. Fiscal Council biographies:
    • Chair – Sir Robert Chote - Chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility from October 2010-October 2020. He has also previously chaired the OECD’s network of parliamentary budget officials and independent fiscal institutions and is currently chairing the external advisory group of the Irish Parliamentary Budget Office. He has also previously held roles as Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies from 2002-2010, adviser to senior management at the International Monetary Fund, and economic journalist with the Independent and Financial Times newspapers.
    • Maureen O’Reilly - independent economist and current advisor to a number of both private sector and public bodies including the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Centre for Cross Border Studies. Previous roles have included Senior Research Economist with the Economic Research Institute for Northern Ireland, Head of the Policy Evaluation Unit at the Northern Ireland Economic Research Centre and Associate Lecturer in Economics with the Open University.
    • Professor Alan Barrett - Chief Executive Officer of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) having joined the ESRI in 1994. Alan served as a member of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council from 2011-2015 and is also an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin. He is a Research Fellow with the Institute for Labour Economics in Bonn, Germany, an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Actuaries in Ireland and a member (ex officio) of the Climate Change Advisory Council.
    • Dr Esmond Birnie – Esmond is currently a senior economist at Ulster University with significant research experience in budgetary and fiscal matters. Prior to that, he was Chief Economist for PwC in Northern Ireland and Scotland during 2010-16. He was a Special Advisor to the Employment and Learning Minister (2007-10), a MLA (1998-2007) and an economics Lecturer and Senior Lecturer at Queen’s University (1989-98).
  5. Fiscal Commission biographies:
    • Chair – Paul Johnson – Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has agreed to take up the post as Chair of the Commission. Paul has been Director of the IFS since January 2011. He is also currently visiting professor in the Department of Economics at University College London and is a member of the Climate Change Committee. Paul has worked and published extensively on the economics of public policy, particularly on the areas of income distribution, public finances and tax. He has previously worked in Treasury as Director of Public Services and between 2004-2007 he was the Deputy Head of the Government Economic Service.
    • Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan - Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Impact) at Ulster University.  A Professor of Politics with research interests that includes public policy and governance. Regular political commentator for the BBC on both television and radio.  Currently serves on the boards of Matrix, the Northern Ireland Science Industry Panel; Catalyst Inc; and the UK government’s advisory body on EU Exit, Universities, Research and Innovation.
    • Professor Iain McLean - Professor of Politics at Oxford University and a fellow of Nuffield College, where he directs a public policy research unit. His research interests include UK public policy; devolution, including related issues in taxation and public expenditure such as the Barnett Formula; electoral systems and constitutional reform.
    • Dr Lisa Wilson - Senior Economist at the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI) and is based in the Belfast office. Her main research interests lie in the areas of labour markets, income distribution, poverty, public expenditure, living standards and well-being. PhD from Queen’s University, Belfast which focused on income inequality and well-being.
  6. It is expected that the Fiscal Commission will provide recommendations before the end of this mandate for consideration by an incoming Executive.
  7. Media enquiries should be addressed to the Department of Finance Press Office: dof.pressoffice@finance-ni.gov.uk. 
  8. Follow us on Twitter @dptfinance
  9. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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