It’s part of his shtick on the RTE TV programme ‘Room to Improve’. John and Mary want an extension. They tell architect Dermot Bannon that their budget is €100,000. Bannon designs something that will cost €150,000. There follows the inevitable row. Corners are cut and the cost comes down. This could be known as Dermot Bannon Economics (DBE) – trying to spend what people don’t have.
You can always borrow
DBE has infected hospital construction budgets. We’ve already written about the scandal of the Children’s Hospital. No, ISME isn’t getting sucked into the years long turf battles over the proposed location. We’re concerned however about the cost. It’s now looking likely to come in at over two times the original budget – giving the word ‘budget’ a new meaning. A public purse budget needn’t be rooted in reality. Think of any old number and then let the real spending commence. If there isn’t enough in the pot, well it can be borrowed, after all.
The DBE infection is spreading
There’s another case of DBE afflicting hospital construction with an Irish Times story this week saying the cost of moving Dublin’s National Maternity Hospital (NMH) to a new location down the road, at St. Vincent’s Hospital, has also doubled. The original €150 million has ballooned to €296 million. Seán Fleming TD, Chair of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, is to ask both the NMH and St Vincent’s to explain why the original cost assumptions were “significantly flawed”. What a great new ‘Father Tedism’. Students can tell teachers that their answers weren’t wrong, they were just ‘significantly flawed’.
It’s not a budget, it’s a guesstimate
A HSE spokesman told the newspaper that it was “not reasonable” to say the cost of the project had risen. He said the figure of €150 million used when former Minister for Health James Reilly announced the move in 2013 was the “nominal construction cost” for a greenfield site. So therefore, it’s not a budget for the project. It’s a work of fiction. The massive increase is blamed on ‘medical inflation’ but there’s no plausible way that the bricks and mortar element and a basic hospital fit-out has risen by 100% in a few years.
Name and shame them
Who makes up these numbers and why is no one accountable? Naming and shaming has proven very effective in getting citizens to pay their taxes and is now proposed as a way of helping to stop drink driving. In a country where the spending of public money isn’t given due regard, maybe it’s time to publicly name and shame, in the national media, those who create budgetary works of fiction.