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Background Notes

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The Register of Public Sector Bodies provides the basis for the preparation of Government Finance Statistics (GFS) and Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) reporting for Ireland.  It lists all organisations in the State which are considered to be in the general government sector for the purposes of GFS and EDP.  It also lists organisations which, while under public control, are not part of the general government sector.

Historical versions of the Register of Public Sector Bodies are available on the CSO website

A complete list of the Register in alphabetical order is available here P-RPB12020H1 TBL1.1 (XLS 51KB)  .

A CSV file is also available here P-RPBI2020H1 TBL1.1csv.


The Central Statistics Office (CSO) have published Guidelines on the provision of methodological advice on statistical classifications for Government Finance Statistics and Excessive Deficit Procedure

Legal basis

Under Council Regulation (EC) No. 479/2009 as amended by Council Regulation  (EU) No 679/2010, and Commission Regulation (EU) No 220/2014 the CSO is responsible for the official reporting of Ireland’s General Government Balance (GGB), Debt (GGDebt), other Government Finance Statistics (GFS) and Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) statistics. This requires the CSO to define the scope of the general government and public sectors in Ireland.

The legally binding Accounting Regulations (EU) 549/2013 which must be used by all EU member states for producing these statistics are those of the European System of Accounts 2010 (ESA 2010). The Manual on Government Debt and Deficit (MGDD 2019) provides further guidance on the implementation of ESA 2010 when reporting GFS and EDP. 

Defining government control

ESA2010, paragraph 20.18 defines control as "the ability to determine the general policy or programme of that entity". Paragraphs 2.38 and 2.39 of ESA 2010 set out, respectively, indicators of control for corporations and non-profit institutions (see Table 1 below). They also note in each case that while a single indicator may be sufficient to establish control it may be necessary to assess a combination of indicators to determine control of the entity. If an entity is determined to be under public control it must then be established whether it should be classified in the general government sector or in the commercial public sector.

The concept of “control” in national accounts terms does not mean that an organisation has no independence of action or decision-making function, or that it is what is traditionally thought of as a government body in national terms. Rather it means that any type of organisation, which may be established by government or by civil society, who is assessed, under the criteria listed in Table 1, to have a relationship with government that can be considered “control” as defined under ESA 2010.

Table 1 Indicators of government control

Corporations  (ESA 2010 para 2.38) 

  • Government ownership of the majority of the voting interest;
  • Government control of the board or governing body;
  • Government control of the appointment and removal of key personnel;
  • Government control of key committees in the entity;
  • Government possession of a golden share;
  • Special regulations;
  • Government as a dominant customer;
  • Borrowing from government.

Non-profit institutions (ESA 2010 para 2.39) 

  • Appointment of officers;
  • Provisions of the enabling instruments;
  • Contractual agreements;
  • Degree of financing;
  • Degree of government risk exposure.                       

Defining an institutional unit

ESA 2010 defines an institutional unit using four criteria:

  • Ability to own goods or assets in its own right and to exchange the ownership of goods or assets in transactions with other institutional units;
  • Ability to take economic decisions and engage in economic activities for which it is itself held to be directly responsible and accountable at law;
  • Ability to incur liabilities on its own behalf, to take on other obligations for further commitments and to enter into contracts; and
  • Ability to draw up a complete set of accounts, covering all transactions carried out during the accounting period, as well as a balance sheet of assets and liabilities.

An entity which fails the criteria of an institutional unit is classified in the same sector as the body which controls it. Therefore, publicly controlled units which are not institutional units are classified in general government. For example, most extra-budgetary funds are not categorised as institutional units. 

Extra Budgetary Funds

Most Extra Budgetary Funds (EBFs) are not treated as institutional units as they generally have no autonomy of decision.  A government department, or in some cases the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), manages the EBFs. Budgetary data in respect of these funds are reported in either the Appropriation Accounts, the audited accounts of the fund in question or the NTMA Annual Report.  

Non-commercial semi-state bodies (non-market agencies)

Bodies which are neither government departments nor EBFs but which receive a majority of their funding from the Exchequer and are subject to government control are referred to as non-commercial semi-state bodies. Examples of such bodies which are classified in the central government subsector include Enterprise Ireland, the Industrial Development Authority, Teagasc, voluntary hospitals, voluntary schools, Irish Rail and RTE. These bodies are deemed to be non-commercial (non-market) as they cover less than half of their operating costs through sales of goods or services. Commercial semi-state companies, though publicly controlled, are not classified in the general government sector because they are commercial (market) entities.

Defining commercial/non-commercial units

ESA 2010 (paragraph 20.29) states that the classification of “core government units engaged in the provision of goods and services on a non-market basis and/or in the redistribution of income and wealth, is straightforward.”  This refers to what are typically thought of as government units – in Ireland’s case these would include Departments of State and their associated offices and local authorities. 

However, other units may also be classified to the general government sector if they are controlled by government and if they are classified as “non-market producers”. The general government sector thus encompasses both central and local government, non-commercial state-owned bodies and extra budgetary funds.  

Other bodies which are considered commercial, or “market”, institutional units controlled by government (e.g. ESB, AIB) are classified in the ‘commercial Public Sector’ – either the Non-Financial Corporation Sector (S11) or the Financial Corporation Sector (S12).

To determine that a publicly controlled producer is a commercial (market) unit it must charge “economically significant prices”, that is prices which substantially influence the amount of the good or service which the producer is willing to supply and the consumer is willing to purchase. If the publicly controlled producer is the only supplier to government of goods or services* it must do so on the basis of competition with private producers (e.g. through a tendering process) in order to be considered a market producer.  It must also have a profit-based incentive to adjust supply and must be able to operate in market conditions and to meet its financial obligations.  The ability to undertake a market activity is checked via a quantitative criterion which measures whether the entity is covering at least 50% of its production costs through sales (as defined in ESA 2010 paras 20.30-20.32) over a multi-year period. 

*Providers of "ancillary services" such as transport, financing, purchasing, computer services etc. who provide services exclusively to a parent unit are classified in the same sector as their parent unit.

Compilation and update of the Register of Public Sector Bodies

The Register is based on a number of sources including government publications, annual reports, academic databases and data collection undertaken by the CSO.  The CSO conducts annual joint surveys of all:

  • Central government departments - with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform; and
  • Local authorities - with the Department of the Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

These surveys confirm or revise existing data and obtain further information as needed on all bodies under the aegis of these government units to ensure their correct statistical classification. 

The composition of this Register is not static. Government controlled bodies are established, closed and merged over time.  Also the commercial/non-commercial (market/non-market) status of bodies must be continually reviewed.  Consequently the Register of Public Sector Bodies is up-dated twice a year in April and October. The Register also includes statistical classification reviews completed by the Government Accounts Classifications Division throughout the preceding 12 months.

Local government

The Local Government Reform Act 2014 provided for the abolition of Town Councils and the introduction of municipal districts making structures rather than corporate entities (with effect from 1 June 2014). Following this and the merger of specific city/county councils the number of local authorities in Ireland was reduced to 31, comprising single county-wide executive and operational structures.

The CSO survey local authorities annually to gather information on entities owned by the local authorities. Each entity is reviewed in terms of their statistical classification. The Register lists those entities deemed to be controlled by government for statistical purposes. The ESA 2010 statistical criteria are applied in making the classification decisions. The non-commercial (non-market) entities are included under the local authority agency list. The commercial (market) entities are on the public corporations list.

Regional assemblies

The Local Government Reform Act 2014 provided for the existing 8 regional authorities and 2 regional assemblies to be replaced by 3 new regional assemblies. The membership of a regional assembly consists of members of the local authorities within the region. The main function is to draw up regional spatial and economic strategies.

Approved Housing Bodies

Section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1992 allows for the designation of certain non-profit entities as Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs). This status allows a voluntary housing body to access funding for the provision of social housing under schemes established by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. The current conditions to become an AHB under Section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992 state that an organisation seeking such status may take the form of:
• Limited companies formed by guarantee of their members and not having a shareholding, registered under the Companies Act 2014;
• Societies registered under the Industrial & Provident Societies Acts, 1893 – 2014;
• Trusts incorporated under the Charities Acts.

Furthermore such a body must:
• Have as its goal, the relief of housing needs, to assist with cases of poverty or hardship, including the welfare of Travellers, and the delivery and management of housing;
• Have in its Memorandum and Articles of Association or registered rules, provisions preventing the distribution of any surplus, profit, bonus or dividend to its members;
• Ensure that its assets are applied solely towards its objects.

Following a statistical classification review of Tier 3 AHBs in 2017 (comprising around 80% of the total housing stock of the sector) the CSO reclassified 16 AHBs to the local government sector.

During 2020, the Government Accounts Classifications Division completed a statistical classification review of 52 Tier 2 AHBs who own or manage approximately 5,500 housing units.  The review classified 30 Tier 2 AHBs into the local government sector, giving a total of 46 AHBs classified in this sector. These AHBs are listed in the Register.

It was also noted that 15 of the 52 Tier 2 AHBs were involved in the provision of additional services, such as disability services.  These additional services are funded by the Department Health/HSE and other government departments.  These 15 bodies were further reviewed in the context of the provision of their housing and other services.  This review classified 13 of these bodies into the central government sector (see Table 2 below).  The remaining 9 Tier 2 AHBs that were reviewed remained in the Non-Profit Institutions Serving Household sector.  

Organisations providing health and personal social services

During 2020 a classification review was undertaken of HSE Section 38 organisations that provide health and personal social services.  Of these, 10 were classified in the central government sector under the aegis of the Department of Health/HSE. Table 2 lists the organisations reviewed during 2020, in alphabetical order. It should be noted that the Government Accounts Classifications Division work is ongoing. The prioritisation of reviews depends on criteria, such as, existing work requirements for the CSO, Eurostat and other government departments as well as the material impact on the government accounts. 

Table 2 Organisations providing services classified into central government

Ability West
Brothers of Charity Services Ireland
Carriglea Cairde Services Ltd
Central Remedial Clinic
Cheeverstown House Company Limited by Guarantee
Cheshire Homes Ireland
Cope Foundation
Daughters of Charity Disability Support Services Company Limited by Guarantee
Gheel Autism Services
Irish Wheelchair Association Ltd.
Kare, Promoting Inclusion for People with Intellectual Disability
Kerry Parents and Friends
Leopardstown Park Hospital
Muiriosa Foundation
Saint John of God Community Services Company Limited by Guarantee
Saint Michael's House
Saint Patrick's Centre (Kilkenny)
SOS Kilkenny Housing Association Limited
Stewarts Care Limited
Sunbeam House Services
The Children's Sunshine Home
Threshold, National Housing Organisation
Western Care Association

Please note that all of the above entities are under the aegis of the Department of Health with the exception of Threshold who are classified under the aegis of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Changes to the Register of Public Sector Bodies

Changes to local government sector
The Register of Public Sector Bodies 2020 includes the May 2020 survey results of local government.  Due to data availability, the survey of local government is for reference year 2018. The next survey of local government will take place in May 2021 and the Register published in October 2021 will reflect a full listing of 2019 local government entities. 

Entities added to local government sector
Drogheda Port Company was classified as a Commercial Non-Financial Corporation under the aegis of Louth County Council.

Entities removed from local government sector
Two entities have been removed from the local government sector, Carlow Rural Information Services Project Ltd. and Limerick Lodis Ltd. as both are now dissolved.

Changes to central government sector
The Register of Public Sector Bodies 2020 includes the May 2020 survey results of central government entities.  The next survey of central government will take place in May 2021 and the Register published in October 2021 will include a full listing of 2020 central government entities.

Insurance Compensation Fund
A review of the Insurance Compensation Fund (ICF) by Government Accounts Classifications Division concluded that the ICF should be included in central government sector with effect from 2014 (aligning with ESA 2010 implementation). The ICF is listed as an Extra Budgetary Fund under the Department of Finance.

National Broadband Infrastructure Ireland Designated Activity Company
On 19 November 2019 the government signed the contract for the National Broadband Plan with National Broadband Ireland Infrastructure Designated Activity Company.  NBII DAC is therefore included in the Register of Public Sector Bodies 2020 as a non-commercial agency under the aegis of the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications. An ex-post review of the final signed contract is currently underway. It is envisaged that the ex-ante statistical classification, given in 2018, of being on government balance sheet, will remain as the two (draft and final) contracts are not fundamentally different.

National Asset Management Agency subsidiaries
On 26 May 2020 the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) completed the final investor payment required before it transfers €2 billion of its expected €4 billion surplus to the Exchequer. Therefore, from this date the following NAMA subsidiaries are listed in the Register:

National Asset Management Agency Group
National Asset Management Agency Group Services DAC
National Asset Loan Management DAC
National Asset North Quays DAC
National Asset JV A DAC
National Asset Property Management DAC
National Asset Residential Property Services DAC
Pembroke Beach DAC
Pembroke Ventures DAC
Pembroke West Homes DAC

Note that four subsidiaries are excluded as one is in liquidation and three are non-domestic.

Other entities added to central government sector

• Votes:
   -  The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science - a new government department.
   -  Office of the Government Chief Information Officer – a new vote under the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
• Non-commercial agencies:
  -  Special EU Programmes Body – under the aegis of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
  -  Valuation Tribunal – under the aegis of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.                                

Entities removed from central government sector

The Defence Forces (Óglaigh na hÉireann) has been removed from the central government sector as this is a function of the Department of Defence and not an agency of the department. The International Protection Office has also been removed from the central government sector as this office is a function of the Department of Justice. The Garda Síochána Reward Fund, an Extra-Budgetary Fund, was removed from the Department of Justice.

NACE classification

NACE is a Statistical Classification of Economic Activities developed in the European Community. NACE is an acronym derived from the French title 'Nomenclature générale des Activités économiques dans les Communautés Européennes'. In compliance with EU regulations the NACE Rev. 2 classification system is used in this publication.

The NACE Rev.2 sections are:

  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing: Section A
  • Industry (excluding Construction): Sections B, C, D, E
    of which: Manufacturing: Section C
  • Construction: Section F
  • Distribution, transport, hotels and restaurants: Sections G,H,I
  • Information and communication: Section J
  • Financial and insurance activities: Section K
  • Real estate activities: Section L
  • Professional, admin and support services: Sections M,N
  • Public admin, education and health: Sections O,P,Q
  • Arts, entertainment and other services: Sections R,S,T

For further information on the NACE Rev. 2 classification of industrial activity, visit the CSO website here.

In addition, the Nace Coder provided by the European Commission is the most up-to-date reference. 



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