Lenihan, Brian Joseph

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 666 No. 2

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Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 18, Broadcasting Bill 2008 [Seanad]— Second Stage (resumed); and No. 19, Tribunals of Inquiry Bill 2005 — Second Stage (resumed).More Button

I will assist the Leader of the Opposition on the question of the interest rate cuts. Last Monday and Tuesday, I attended a meeting of ECOFIN and meetings yesterday and today have been attended by th...More Button

It is important to bear in mind that the legislation, in respect of which I thank the Deputies for their co-operation, provides a framework for the giving by the State of a guarantee to the banks. It...More Button

——or €1,400 per week gross for a married couple to notify their circumstances to the HSE.More Button

Legislation to give effect to the above changes will be enacted before the end of 2008 and will come into effect on 1 January 2009. The heads of a Bill have been drafted to give effect to the budget ...More Button

Deputy Gilmore has raised the same questions as Deputy Kenny. In relation to the medical cards, legislation to give effect to the changes in this regard will be enacted before the end of 2008 and wil...More Button

The other issue does not arise on the Order of Business.More Button

The health information Bill provides a legislative framework for the governance and information of the health sector. A wide ranging public consultation process has been completed and submissions are...More Button

It is a matter for the Whips. Let us be clear, I gave no undertaking in relation to what the Whips might or might not do. More Button

I simply said if that matter is to be pursued, it is a matter for the Whips. I am not giving any undertaking in that regard.More Button

I may be of assistance to the Deputy if he resumes his seat. Deputy Kehoe should have raised this matter before we agreed the Order of Business but he neglected to do so.More Button

The Government is most anxious——More Button

——that any information the House may wish to have in this regard will be provided. The Minister for Health and Children and Government Whip are more than willing to facilitate a statement on the matt...More Button

We are willing to give time if the Whips wish to discuss it.More Button

Not here or at this time.More Button

Well done to the Government.More Button

I will contact the Minister and he will convey the information to the Deputy. I am not aware of such legislation.More Button

Three legislative measures relate to Deputy Durkan’s question. The financial services regulation Bill, as Deputy Durkan mentioned, consolidates and modernises financial services legislation in accord...More Button

It is.More Button

I did not sanction four special advisers for any Minister of State.More Button

Options are being considered in consultation with the relevant Departments and the Attorney General as to whether it would be more expeditious to introduce a single Bill or to adopt a sectoral approac...More Button

A Government decision on the matter will be made on the basis of how quickly the required legislation can be enacted. The main features of the legislation were outlined——More Button

The main features of the legislation were outlined in a strategy——More Button

——on foot of a Government decision taken on 23 September this year.More Button

I can. I will assist the Ceann Comhairle by stating this legislation will be prepared by the Government as soon as possible and that the Government and I are quite capable of multitasking.More Button

Deputy Upton asked two questions. First, the heads of the Irish Sports Council (amendment) Bill, were approved by the Government on 4 July 2006. A decision has yet to be made on whether to proceed w...More Button

——already governs this matter. However, further measures to strengthen the law in this regard are contained in the planning and development (amendment) Bill, for which the heads are expected at the e...More Button

The heads of the mental capacity Bill were approved by the Government on 3 September this year. It will be published in the middle of next year.More Button

Ireland signed the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters on 25 June 1998.More Button

Progress towards ratification is closely aligned with work at EU level. In that context, the European Union has adopted two directives as part of the ratification process for the convention.More Button

Regulations transposing the European Communities access to information on the environment directive were signed and came into effect on 1 May 2007. The process to transpose the other directive is wel...More Button

As Deputy Higgins will be aware, it can be highly complicated when ethical objectives must be realised within an EU framework. However, in respect of the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, I ...More Button

No legislation is promised and I am not aware of any plans at present.More Button

The Government is determined to preserve the principle of community rating and will bring forward proposals in due course.More Button

I understand the implementation is taking place by way of secondary legislation.More Button

Priority Questions - Banking Sector Regulation.

Was asked: his views on whether experience shows that putting off decisions on restructuring financial institutions only serves to deepen and prolong a crisis; and the strategy necessary to ensure there is a co...More Button

When I introduced the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Act to this House, I made it clear the disruption in international financial markets required a strong and decisive response by the Govern...More Button

With regard to the shortage of credit for particular businesses and especially small and medium sized Irish firms, I have asked my Department to liaise with the Central Bank, the Financial Regulator a...More Button

The Deputy did not qualify it. He would appreciate I was going to make the point that the degree of liquidity attracted by the banks through the guarantee was actually greater than the amount of liqu...More Button

I accept the point made by Deputy Bruton that as a result of the degree of supervision by the State of credit institutions entailed by the guarantee, there is an onus on the State to assist institutio...More Button

I assure Deputy Bruton we do not rest on our oars. We did not rest on our oars in giving the guarantee in the first place. Our political difficulty in Europe was that we were ahead in giving the gua...More Button

We did not rest on our oars in bringing forward the budget either and we will not do so with this issue.More Button

Was asked: his views of the level of asset impairment of the institutions covered by the credit institutions financial support scheme; the progress of the review by PriceWaterhouseCoopers; his views of expected...More Button

The credit institutions financial support scheme provides a guarantee for covered institutions until 29 September 2010. I have been advised by the Financial Regulator that it recently commissioned Pr...More Button

The Deputy did not say that.More Button

I never have visited Wall Street and my fundamental concern in this matter——More Button

——is to ensure the Irish banks have the capacity to ensure the economy remains viable, businesses continue to thrive and consumers can borrow. As for the Deputy’s reference to the inability to acquir...More Button

No.More Button

The fundamental issue for me is to safeguard all businesses, irrespective of their activities, which are in good standing, need credit and are capable of contributing to this economy.More Button

That is a fundamental objective behind the installation of the guarantee and is the reason the Government will continue to reform the banking sector, now that the guarantee agreements have been conclu...More Button

Priority Questions - Budgetary Forecasts.

Was asked: if he is satisfied that the forecasts in the Budget Statement 2009 on which he has based his projections of taxation and borrowing are robust; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Since budget day my Department has received the October data as regards tax revenue and expenditure, which are broadly in line with what was expected. The October Exchequer returns showed an Excheque...More Button

There is no question of the introduction of a supplementary budget because the tax burden has been increased in the budget that was announced this October for next year. An additional €2 billion in t...More Button

The Deputy would want to get his figures right first. The figure stated in the budget is 6.5%. In its economic assessment the Commission estimated it would be 6.7% for next year, which is not broadl...More Button

As I said on a number of occasions, forecasting is not an exact science. A range of organisations both in the public and private sectors produces forecasts at different frequencies during the year. ...More Button

I have had a number of constructive meetings with Commissioner Almunia, who has indicated also on the public record in this State that he is optimistic about the eventual outcome for the Irish economy...More Button

Priority Questions - Public Sector Pay.

Was asked: if he plans to contain the growth of the public service pay bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I am keeping the public service pay bill under continuous review and I have already taken steps to contain its growth. The draft pay agreement, Review and Transitional Agreement 2008-2009, provides f...More Button

Based on current staffing and numbers it is estimated that the cumulative costs of implementing the pay increases provided for in the draft agreement, Review and Transitional Agreement 2008-2009, will...More Button

In 2010 the figure will be €990 million.More Button

These are the figures on foot of the agreement.More Button

The agreement was the result of negotiations with the social partners, which did have regard to the difficult economic environment. It is accepted by all the parties involved that the talks were amon...More Button

Deputy Bruton’s summary of the borrowing position for current purposes is not correct. The bulk of the borrowing this year is to fund investment in the public capital programme. That is where the bu...More Button

That is a deliberate statistical mistake.More Button

Deputy Bruton is only arriving at that conclusion on the basis that the public capital programme is being funded by the taxpayer and not by borrowing. I agree with much of what Deputy Bruton said abo...More Button

The Deputies will have to check their figures again.More Button

The figures in respect of the capital programme are in excess of €8 billion so the Deputies’ percentages do not add up.More Button

It is essential that we eliminate the current budget deficit in the years ahead. It is unacceptable but, given the rapid deterioration that has occurred this year, it is unavoidable. We must take fi...More Button

Priority Questions - Government Borrowing.

Was asked: if he has received an analysis of the reason Irish debt costs are rising relative to those of other states. More Button

As the Deputy is aware, the day-to-day management of the debt is handled by the National Treasury Management Agency, NTMA, and, as such, it is on its advice that the Government relies regarding the op...More Button

Deputy O’Donnell is now referring correctly to the percentage of the borrowing total and not to borrowing as a percentage of the expenditure total. This has been the source of the disagreement betwee...More Button

I am trying to be of assistance to the Deputy because it is very easy to throw out a catchphrase during Question Time. Deputy O’Donnell was referring the percentage of borrowing on the current accoun...More Button

He referred to the giving of the guarantee to the banks and seemed to be unaware of the fact that far more extensive guarantees and direct capital investments have been made in banking systems by Gove...More Button

It involves a payment for the guarantee by the relevant institutions to the Exchequer. It is worth noting that because it is clear that the widening spreads in bond markets reflect massive investment...More Button

Despite the difficult and volatile market conditions since September, the NTMA has continued to be successful in raising finance for the Exchequer.More Button

Over €2.5 billion in short-term funding was raised in October and, this week, the NTMA issued a new €4 billion three-year benchmark bond.More Button

The bond was oversubscribed within 36 hours and close to 100 applicants participated in the transaction. The successful launch of the bond in these conditions confirms the confidence of investors in ...More Button

There is a wide variety of factors.More Button

Other Questions - Departmental Expenditure.

Was asked: the 2009 funding allocation for disability services under the multi-annual investment programme 2006 to 2009; the expenditure under this programme each year, respectively, since it began; and if he w...More Button

I am replying on behalf of the Minister of State at the Department of Finance with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, Deputy Martin Mansergh. Deputy Stanton should note that my reply is i...More Button

Deputy Stanton will appreciate the question was tabled to the Minister of State responsible for the Office of Public Works and not to me, the Minister for Finance. If he wishes to raise questions of ...More Button

I will have the answers when I am asked the question. The question I was asked related to the responsibilities for disability services of the Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of P...More Button

I am subject to the Leas-Cheann Comhairle but the question was put and answered in that form. Perhaps the Deputies may wish to put a question in respect of the health Vote. I can assure Deputy Burto...More Button

In determining the relevance of questions——More Button

The reply is prepared on the basis of a question on disability services within the Office of Public Works. Concerning the wider questions raised by Deputies about financial matters relating to the De...More Button

I will certainly take into account the matters referred to by Deputy McGrath.More Button

I am quite happy to assure the House that I will do all in my power to ensure that moneys voted for disability services are allocated to them. I must say that the reply and the material associated wi...More Button

I am explaining to the Deputy the basis on which the reply was formulated. I am entitled to do this. The reply was prepared for the Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, and I was requested to stand i...More Button

Other Questions - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: if he is satisfied with the progress being made to find a satisfactory system for deposit protection in credit unions. More Button

The extension of the deposit guarantee scheme to credit union savers on 20 September 2008 is an important development in safeguarding the interests of credit union savers because the €100,000 limit pe...More Button

Deputy Bruton asked questions about legislation that is under preparation in my Department. One of the great difficulties is that there is not a unanimous view among the different credit unions in Ir...More Button

The position was that no guarantee was in place and the reason the credit unions were included in the guarantee is that I did not want them to be put at a competitive disadvantage to other financial i...More Button

I do not have a figure to hand but I will arrange for the details to be furnished to the Deputy. I believe it is of the order of €12 billion.More Button

Other Questions - Pension Provisions.

Was asked: if he has received estimates of the deficits in the pension fund in universities and certain State bodies in meeting EU funding standards, which he has offered to take over; and if he will make a sta...More Button

Discussions are under way with the trustees and administrators of the funded pension schemes of the five older universities and a number of non-commercial semi-State bodies with the aim of adopting a ...More Button

I assure Deputy Bruton and the House that no agreement has been reached to take over the assets and liabilities in the question. The provisional character of the figures I provided is provisional and...More Button

It is important to note, however, that the public bodies in question have, by and large, no substantial revenue raising capacity. Therefore, an issue would arise in any event as to whether the State ...More Button

Yes, we will require legislation but we are not yet at that stage because we would first need an agreement with the relevant bodies and we have not yet reached that stage either. Furthermore, we need...More Button

No, the Deputy may not make that assumption from my reply. I stated that the ultimate destination of the funds had to be examined with care. The pension fund is one option, while the general Governm...More Button

Other Questions - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: the details of the formula used to derive the aggregate amount of the charge to banks and credit institutions covered by the credit institutions financial support scheme; and if he will make a statem...More Button

The charge for the provision of the guarantee is based on an assessment of the additional funding costs arising for Government from the guarantee scheme. It is estimated that the total aggregate char...More Button

Deputies on all sides of the House will have to be aware that the conditions in the international bond market are not unique to Ireland. We are not in a unique position in international markets — far...More Button

The charge scheme is set out and is now being implemented in the contractual arrangements arrived at with the different institutions. Provision is contained within the scheme for the review of the ch...More Button

I do not accept the international comparisons made by Deputy Burton. The reasons for the increase in the basis points referred to by the Deputy are not related to the guarantee given to the banking s...More Button

——and which are clearly visible to any person who examines the financial literature for any extended period. As regards the question about the protection of the taxpayer, the whole basis of the charg...More Button

I made it clear in replying to Deputy Kenny this morning that I anticipated that the Irish financial institutions would pass on the benefit of the interest rate decreased.More Button

Again, in relation to that, it is not a scheme in which taxpayers’ money was invested in or spent on the banking sector. It is a scheme in which the State gave a secondary guarantee and——More Button

——-under the legislation governing the scheme, a right of commercial interference in the banks is not given to the State. However, it is in the banks’ commercial interests to pass on the benefit of t...More Button

Other Questions - Decentralisation Programme.

Was asked: his estimate of the current and capital expenditure that has been incurred to date in respect of the 50 decentralisation projects that have not been advanced. More Button

A total of €18.8 million has been spent on acquiring sites in respect of those projects which are being deferred pending a review in 2011. The locations in question are Birr, Cavan, Dungarvan, Edender...More Button

My response made it clear that staff in such locations will remain in place. Therefore, in so far as expenditure has been incurred, the staff placed in those locations will remain in place. However,...More Button

In prioritising capital expenditure this year, the Government faced a choice. It had to make a decision to pause decentralisation now or incur far greater expenditure.More Button

The decentralisation programme has made substantial progress. As the Deputy is well aware and as I announced in the budget, the programme is not dead, but in light of our changed economic circumstanc...More Button

That sounds like some members of the Labour parliamentary party who have been out of office for so many years. There are 6,000 posts being decentralised. Some 2,500 posts have already moved and an a...More Button

This has been a successful decentralisation programme, which has brought great benefits to towns and cities outside Dublin. The programme should be lauded for that. However, it has been necessary, b...More Button

I will give the Deputy the precise figures for the outstanding timescale. On the issue of value for money, overall the Office of Public Works has spent approximately €250 million, to end-September 20...More Button

The Deputies do not want to hear the facts when they do not suit them. On the capital side, the State has been a very successful developer in this context.More Button

Written Answers - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: if new inter-agency management structures have been put in place to handle the banking crisis; and if clear lines of accountability have been put in place in respect of the responsibilities of respec...More Button

The Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme 2008 applies comprehensive control, monitoring and information provisions to the credit institutions covered by the scheme which will ensure enhance...More Button

Was asked: if he remains satisfied with the level of capitalisation of each of the Irish banks and credit institutions covered by the credit institution guarantee scheme; if his Department has drawn up a contin...More Button

As the Deputy will be aware, we have put in place a wide guarantee for the banking system in Ireland. The legislative scheme setting out the terms and conditions for the guarantee to support the long...More Button

Was asked: if, in view the recent losses announced by a company (details supplied) he has made contact with other major credit institutions to discuss their financial positions going forward; and if he will mak...More Button

As Minister for Finance it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the performance or financial position of an individual credit institution. The Financial Regulator is responsible for the prude...More Button

Written Answers - Public Service Pay.

Was asked: his plans to contain the growth in the public service pay bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I am keeping the public service paybill under continuous review and I have already taken steps to contain its growth. The draft pay agreement “Review and Transitional Agreement 2008-2009” provides fo...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: the details of the proposed committee which will address issues relating to remuneration structures in the financial sector here including its membership, terms of reference and implementation timesc...More Button

The Scheme prepared under the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Act 2008 requires each covered institution to prepare a plan to structure the remuneration packages of directors and executives, i...More Button

Written Answers - Economic Competitiveness.

Was asked: if, in the context of budget 2009, he has identified and addressed any or all of the issues that heretofore have created a lack of competitiveness in the economy here; and if he will make a statement...More Button

The deterioration in the economy’s competitiveness relative to that of our main trading partners has been driven by a combination of factors. These include a strong euro, the global rise in commodity...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: the amount of dated subordinated debt covered by the credit institutions financial support scheme; if he has a list of the holders of such debt; if they include directors of the banks covered by the ...More Button

The consolidated dated subordinated debt figure in respect of the first group of banks and building societies to participate in the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme amounts to €12.4 bill...More Button

Written Answers - Budgetary Projections.

Was asked: if his Department is revising Irish GDP and GNP forecasts in view of the GDP figures in the USA and Britain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Budget day forecasts are for GDP to decline by 1¼ per cent this year, with GNP forecast to contract by 1½ per cent. In terms of next year, GDP is forecast to decline by ¾ per cent, while GNP is pr...More Button

Written Answers - Pension Provisions.

Was asked: his views on the adequacy of provision for pension liabilities in the public sector; and the policy options open to him. More Button

Total expenditure on public service pensions in 2007 was of the order of €2.3bn and the most recent projections carried out by the Department of Finance are for expenditure on public service pensions ...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: if the letters given by him to certain credit institutions on 30 September 2008, referred to by him in Dáil Éireann on 17 September 2008, were in identical terms as regards each such institution; if ...More Button

The written notification to six named financial institutions of the provision by the Government of a guarantee to their deposits and funding, which I referred to as a letter in the course of the debat...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Services Regulation.

Was asked: his views on the Financial Regulator’s recent decision to fine a company and an individual (details supplied) €3.2 million and €0.2 million respectively in relation to breaches of regulatory requirem...More Button

The Central Bank Act, 1942 as amended provides the Financial Regulator with the power to administer sanctions in respect of prescribed contraventions by regulated financial service providers and perso...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Code.

Was asked: the meetings that he has had to ensure that the needs of US companies based here are not adversely affected by moves to change the tax rules in the United states. More Button

Was asked: if his Department discussed the impact of changes in US tax legislation in view of the likelihood of a change in the US tax codes dealing with multinationals based here; and if he will make a stateme...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 22 and 38 together. My Department and I are of course always mindful of any international developments that could potentially impact on foreign direct investment here...More Button

Written Answers - Public Service Modernisation.

Was asked: the changes in work practices which he sought to negotiate as part of the national social partnership talks. More Button

Towards 2016 is a ten year framework agreement which sets out an agenda for the further modernisation of the Public Service. It commits the parties to the Agreement to continued co-operation with cha...More Button

Written Answers - Budgetary Projections.

Was asked: if he is satisfied that his budgetary projections for 2009 are likely to be accurate in view of the obvious miscalculations for 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: the extent to which he can rely on his budgetary projections for accuracy over the next 12 months in view of his experience for 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 24 and 105 together. The budgetary forecasts by my Department in Budget 2009 were based on the best information available at the time. For 2009 the Budget forecast a G...More Button

Written Answers - House Repossessions.

Was asked: his views on the rising level of home repossessions; if he proposes to introduce measures to help those at risk of losing their homes as a result of rising unemployment and more frequent instances of...More Button

The Deputy will appreciate that recent media attention to court proceedings for repossessions needs to be interpreted with caution, given the variety of circumstances that give rise to such cases. Alt...More Button

Written Answers - Debt Levels.

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the private sector debt here is proportionately higher than any other country in the EU and that at the end of August 2008 Ireland collectively owed t...More Button

Within the implementation of the overall legislative framework, private sector credit growth and debt levels are, in the first instance, a matter for the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority ...More Button

Written Answers - Public Service Pay.

Was asked: if he is satisfied with the operation of performance related pay mechanisms in the public service. More Button

Following a decision by the Government on the implementation of recommendations in Report No. 38 of the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector, schemes of performance-related awards w...More Button

Written Answers - Proposed Legislation.

Was asked: if he plans amendments to the legislation established to provide for an annual investment in the National Pensions Reserve Fund. More Button

Was asked: his views on the impact that falls in global equity markets have had on the National Pension Reserve Fund; his views on whether liquidating any of the NPRF’s equity holdings while global equity marke...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 28 and 48 together. As the Deputies will be aware, I announced in my Budget speech that I was conducting a review of the National Pensions Reserve Fund in the context ...More Button

Written Answers - Decentralisation Programme.

Was asked: if the contracts for the €387.5 million worth of property sold in Dublin under the decentralisation scheme contain clauses that will allow the State to buy back the property in the case of reversal o...More Button

There is no clause to allow the State to buy back properties in any of the contracts for disposal of the properties outlined in my reply to Ceisteanna 227 and 222 of 21 October 2008.More Button

Written Answers - Debt Levels.

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the fact that outstanding Irish bank loans to property developers within Ireland only were estimated to be €86.7 billion in June 2008 and that expert commentators e...More Button

I do not wish to comment on speculative comments by various commentators but as it happens most serious commentators — and the institutions themselves — expect provisions required to be a much smaller...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: if he has assessed the steps necessary to ensure that there is a continuing flow of credit for enterprises and families; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The extended international credit crunch which we have experienced has brought home to all of us the pivotal role of the financial system in the economy and in the day-to-day lives of ordinary people....More Button

Written Answers - Budgetary Projections.

Was asked: if he is satisfied that the tax forecasts on which he has based financial projections are robust in the budget 2009 statement. More Button

Was asked: his views on the October 2008 Exchequer returns; the updated tax revenue profiles for November and December 2008 and for 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 32 and 72 together. The October 2008 Exchequer Returns showed an Exchequer deficit of just over €11 billion for the first ten months of the year, including a tax shor...More Button

Written Answers - Capital Projects.

Was asked: if the central evaluation unit has identified any cases of non-compliance in its spot checks of capital projects; and the consequences for the projects involved; and if he will make a statement on th...More Button

Under the conditions of sanction for capital expenditure issued by my Department, Departments are required to put in place a system of annual spot-checks of capital projects to ensure that they are co...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: the reason dated subordinated debt is included in the credit institutions financial support scheme; the representations received by him or his officials in respect of the inclusion of dated subordina...More Button

Dated subordinated debt is part of the deposit base of a financial institution. The Government took the decision to safeguard all deposits of those credit institutions wishing to participate in the sc...More Button

Was asked: the position regarding the Pricewaterhouse Cooper investigation into the balance sheets of the Irish banks covered by the credit institutions financial support scheme; the extent to which he has liai...More Button

The Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme provides a guarantee for covered institutions until 29 September 2010. I have been advised by the Financial Regulator that it recently commissioned...More Button

Written Answers - Freedom of Information.

Was asked: his plans to amend the freedom of information scheme to include costings of Government projects in view of the importance of public spending in the current economic climate; and if he will make a sta...More Button

I have no plans to amend the Freedom of Information Act. The FOI Act enables members of the public to obtain access to information held by public bodies, to the greatest extent possible consistent w...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: if he will confirm the net Exchequer income expected to arise from the credit institutions financial support scheme for each of the years 2008, 2009 and 2010; if he will confirm that this money will ...More Button

The Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme provides a guarantee for covered institutions until 29 September 2010. The scheme provides that the income accruing from the charge will be credite...More Button

Was asked: the amount of liquidity that flowed into the banking system here in the days after the granting of the guarantee to credit institutions; if this level of liquidity has been maintained in the interven...More Button

The Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme provides a guarantee for covered institutions until 29 September 2010. Since it was introduced, the guarantee scheme has been successful in stabili...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Services Regulation.

Was asked: his views on the solvency ratios of firms operating in the insurance market here; if he instructed the Financial Regulator to seek monthly solvency data from such firms; if contingency plans have bee...More Button

In my role as the Minister for Finance I have responsibility for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation. The day-to-day responsibility for the supervision of financial i...More Button

Written Answers - Capital Projects.

Was asked: if he is satisfied that the public capital programme is delivering in priority areas on time and on budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The exchequer capital allocations for 2009 for all Departments were outlined in my recent budget. It is a matter for each Department to manage its capital allocation to maximise impact and value for m...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: if he will publish the advice of the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland on the appropriate scope of the credit institutions financial support scheme; and if he will make a state...More Button

The Government’s decision on the banking guarantee was indeed informed by the advice and guidance of the Governor of the Central Bank and the chief executive officer of the Financial Regulator. I wis...More Button

Written Answers - Government Bonds.

Was asked: the cost of Exchequer debt financing since 30 September 2008; the changes to the cost of insuring Irish Government bonds against default since 30 September 2008; if his attention has been drawn to th...More Button

Was asked: if he has received an analysis of the reason Irish debt costs are rising relative to other states. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 43 and 44 together. As the Deputy is aware, the day-to-day management of the debt is handled by the National Treasury Management Agency and as such it is on their advi...More Button

Written Answers - EU Directives.

Was asked: his position on draft EU proposals that originating banks be required to retain a portion of assets which they securitise on their books; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Deputy is referring to the proposal by the Commission in the draft Capital Requirements Directive amending Directive, which is currently going through the co-decision legislative process, for impr...More Button

Written Answers - State Agencies.

Was asked: the implications in terms of a reduction in staff numbers and savings in annual costs of the programme of rationalisation of State agencies outlined in budget 2009. More Button

In my Budget for 2009, I announced that the Government has decided to proceed with proposals from 11 Departments that will reduce the number of State agencies by 41. Implementation of each proposal is...More Button

Written Answers - Legal Costs.

Was asked: if he will provide an estimate of the cost of legal services which the State paid for in 2007 and to date in 2008; and if he is satisfied that effective measures are in place to minimise this cost. More Button

The following table sets out expenditure in 2007 and to date in 2008 on contracts for legal services by my department and the related offices. In general, my Department uses the services of the Office...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Code.

Was asked: if he will review the VAT rate on defibrillators; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Deputy will be aware that in matters relating to the VAT rating of goods and services, I am constrained by the requirements of EU VAT law with which Irish VAT law must comply. In relation to the ...More Button

Was asked: the estimate of the impact he expects the reduction in stamp duty on commercial property to have on the commercial property market in terms of transaction volume, prices and Exchequer income; and if ...More Button

As I stated in my Budget speech, there is a need for commercial development and investment if we are to create jobs and stimulate economic activity. I also said that this change was being introduced a...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: if the credit institutions financial support scheme stipulates that the State will underwrite losses incurred as a result of default as opposed to these losses being recouped from the financial secto...More Button

The Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme provides a guarantee for covered institutions until 29 September 2010. The scheme places a strict obligation on every covered institution to reimburs...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Code.

Was asked: his plans to adjust the tax treatment of pension contributions in respect of company directors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

In Budget 2009, I announced a significant reduction in the annual earnings limit for tax relieved pension contributions from just over €275,000 to €150,000. This reduced limit will apply for 2009 to a...More Button

Written Answers - Debt Levels.

Was asked: the forecast total national debt for the year ends 2008, 2009 and 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

My Department has been informed by the NTMA that the national debt is forecast as follows:More Button

Written Answers - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: if he is satisfied that under the credit institutions financial support scheme he can insure that increased liquidity will be provided by the banks to consumers and the small business sector and that...More Button

The main purpose of the scheme is the provision of a guarantee to certain liabilities of covered institutions for a two year period in the interests of financial stability. The health of our financial...More Button

Was asked: his views on reports that the European Central Bank had threatened to withdraw funds from Irish banks if the Government did not extend the guarantee scheme to cover ECB deposits; and if he will make ...More Button

I assume the Deputy is referring to a recent media report on the Opinion of the European Central Bank of 15 October 2008 on a draft Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme. I would like to poin...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Code.

Was asked: the full details of the proposed €200 levy when an employer provides a car parking space for an employee; the urban areas to which the levy will be applied; the estimated number of parking spaces to ...More Button

The detailed provisions of the car parking levy are currently being finalised and will be included in the Finance (No. 2) Bill 2008, which will be published on 20th November next.More Button

Written Answers - Customs Service.

Was asked: the action he has taken to ensure that appropriate steps to deliver a comprehensive Customs and Excise Service with a view to preventing the importation of illegal drugs; and if he will make a statem...More Button

Revenue’s Customs Service has primary responsibility for the prevention, detection, interception and seizure of controlled drugs at importation. This Service has particular responsibility for implemen...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: if he will report on the measures being taken under the credit institutions financial support scheme to ensure the capital adequacy and solvency of the banks involved; and if he will make a statement...More Button

When I introduced the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Legislation to this House, I made it clear that the disruption in international financial markets required a strong and decisive response ...More Button

Was asked: the meetings or correspondence there was between his office and a company (details supplied) in view of the decision by the company not to join the credit institutions guarantee scheme; and if he wil...More Button

The Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme provides a guarantee for covered institutions until 29 September 2010. Participation in the scheme is open to all eligible credit institutions and it...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Code.

Was asked: his views on introducing a higher rate of income levy than 2% for persons earning significantly more than €100,000; the number of taxpayers who have a taxable income of €100,000 to €200,000 and €200,...More Button

The position is that the income levy will be applied to gross income except social welfare payments and contributory and non-contributory social welfare pensions. It is also proposed to exempt those o...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: if an actuarial or similar analysis was carried out with respect to the aggregate level of liability taken on by the Exchequer through the credit institutions guarantee scheme and the annual cost of ...More Button

The guarantee has been introduced to remedy a very serious situation in relation to the financial institutions, for the benefit of the economy as a whole. The charge for the provision of the guarantee...More Button

Was asked: the meetings or correspondence he has had with the chief executive of the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority since the announcement of the credit institutions guarantee scheme; and if he w...More Button

I have regular contact with the Financial Regulator as circumstances require. In addition I am kept closely in touch with developments through ongoing dialogue at official level. More Button

Written Answers - Financial Services Regulation.

Was asked: the position regarding the recruitment of experts by the Financial Regulator to police the banking sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Financial Regulator has informed me that there was a large response to its recent advertisement for additional staff. It is currently reviewing the applications submitted and expects to be holdin...More Button

Written Answers - Flood Relief.

Was asked: the steps which he is taking to address the summer flooding in the Shannon Callows; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Written Answers - Exchequer Borrowing.

Was asked: the forecast Exchequer borrowing requirement for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010; the discussions he or his Department officials have had with the EU institutions with regard to the possible launch of ...More Button

The projections for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 for the Exchequer Balance and the General Government Balance, the latter being the relevant measure in the context of the Stability and Growth Pact, a...More Button

Written Answers - Supplementary Budget.

Was asked: if he will introduce a supplementary budget during the first half of 2009; if there are circumstances in which he would consider doing so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: the impact on his budgetary projections of the variations on the original estimates entered into since budget day 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: if he will modify further any of the proposals announced in budget 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: the action he will take to make good, financial shortfalls in Budget 2009, arising from adjustments arrived at since Budget day; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 66, 108, 111 and 114 together. Budget 2009 was presented to the Dáil on 14 October last. The Budget sets out a medium-term strategy with the clear intention of stabil...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: the meetings or correspondence he has had with directors or boards of any Irish credit institution since the announcement of the credit institutions guarantee scheme; and if he will make a statement ...More Button

I have regular contact with the representatives of the financial sector — both domestic and international banks. In addition, I am kept closely in touch with developments through ongoing dialogue at ...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Code.

Was asked: if he will explain the rationale for changing payment dates with respect to corporation tax and capital gains tax; the expected impact of these measures on Government cashflow in 2009; and if he will...More Button

Was asked: if an assessment has been carried out on the administration cost that will be imposed on businesses by bringing forward the due dates for corporation profit tax and capital gains tax; and if he will ...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 68 and 101 together. In my Budget speech, I announced that the current single payment date for preliminary corporation tax for large companies (those whose corporation...More Button

Was asked: if he intends for prospective carbon tax to be revenue neutral as set out in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to introduce a carbon tax/levy on a revenue neutral basis over the lifetime of the Government. This will, of course, form an important part of the n...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: if financial support, within the meaning of the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Act 2008, has been sought by or provided to a credit institution or subsidiary by individual agreement under Se...More Button

Under section 6 of the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Act 2008, the Minister for Finance can provide financial support to such credit institutions and subsidiaries as the Minister specifies b...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Collection.

Was asked: the steps he has taken to ensure better reporting going forward in view of the previous failings of his Department to accurately predict tax revenue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Last year, my Department’s Budget 2008 forecast assumed tax revenue growth of 3½% for 2008. This was viewed as a conservative forecast by many commentators and in fact others, such as the ESRI, forec...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Code.

Was asked: if, in view of recent financial developments, he is in favour of European and international support for the Tobin tax. More Button

The Deputy may be aware that the issue of a currency transactions tax (Tobin tax) has been considered in a number of fora, including the informal Ecofin meeting at Liège on 22 September 2001. At that...More Button

Written Answers - Motor Vehicle Registration.

Was asked: the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare cannot obtain registrations for antique vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a letter detailing how registration for antique vehicles may be obtained has issued to the person in question.More Button

Written Answers - Departmental Staff.

Was asked: the number of staff employed in his Department whose function it is to deal with representations from his constituency; the number of these staff that are located in the constituency and in his Depar...More Button

Was asked: the number of staff employed by Ministers of State in his Department whose function it is to deal with representations from the Ministers of States’ constituency; the number of these staff that are l...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 83 and 84 together. The following are the staff employed in my Department whose function is to deal with representations from my constituency: One Clerical Officer and...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Code.

Was asked: the schedule of VAT rates for the professional photography industry; if he is satisfied that all Departments and State agencies are aware of the range of the schedule and that this schedule is implem...More Button

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that commissioned photographic images, when supplied in the form of prints, slides and negatives, qualify for the 13.5% VAT rate, whereas the same images supp...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Services Regulation.

Was asked: if credit default swaps and certain related derivative contracts are regarded by the regulatory authorities here as valid financial instruments creating enforceable rights or as void and unenforceabl...More Button

The provision in the State of certain investment services, such as professional dealing services or investment advice, in respect of a credit default swap would fall to be regulated by the Financial R...More Button

Was asked: his views on the nature and extent of dealing in contracts for difference in Irish publicly quoted companies; if he proposes to take steps to restrict or otherwise reform the regulation of these inst...More Button

The main Irish shares traded which use Contracts For Difference (CFDs) are dual-listed shares and the vast majority of Irish CFD trading is completed on a cross-border basis, with counterparties outsi...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: if he will explain what a market notice is; the persons to whom it is addressed and under what authority; the circumstances in which his Department issues such a notice; the number of such notices is...More Button

A market notice is a document designed to provide information to participants in the financial markets. The Market Notice issued by my Department on 22 October was not prepared as a requirement under ...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Code.

Was asked: if he will ensure that a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim, who upon purchase of farmland completed the green certificate course and submitted an application for refund of stamp duty in Mar...More Button

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that a claim for a refund of Stamp Duty, by way of Young Trained Farmer Relief, was made to the Dublin Stamping Office, by the individual’s Solicitor by lett...More Button

Was asked: if, in the context of the provision of tax relief for the relocation of SEVESO sites, it is intended to allow tax relief for the execution of remediation works on vacated sites; and if he will make a...More Button

In my Budget speech on 14th October, I announced the introduction of a new tax incentive scheme to facilitate the relocation of Seveso-listed industrial facilities which hinder the residential and com...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Services Regulation.

Was asked: if he has received a request to instruct the Financial Regulator to investigate alleged overcharging by a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I might first explain that the function of the Minister for Finance is to provide an appropriate and robust legislative framework for regulation of the financial services sector with a particular focu...More Button

Written Answers - Banking Sector Regulation.

Was asked: if the Central Bank has advised him of the number of cases prosecuted against Irish banks in courts here; and if so, if he will provide a breakdown for each bank licensed here; and if he will make a ...More Button

The Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (CBFSAI) does not advise the Minister for Finance in relation to the number of cases prosecuted against any financial institution, includin...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Services Regulation.

Was asked: if contracts for difference are a declarable interest under the Standards in Public Office Act 2001; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Second Schedule to the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995 defines a registerable interest for the purposes of that Act. The application of these or of other provisions of the Ethics Acts in particul...More Button

Was asked: if there are ethical, legal or conflict of interest issues relating to the use of spread betting by public representatives, public sector officials, officials of entities regulated by the Financial R...More Button

The matters raised by the Deputy are dealt with at a number of levels. In the first instance, the Ethics in Public Office Acts provide a framework for dealing with conflicts of interest which can ari...More Button

Written Answers - Revenue Staff.

Was asked: the number of vacancies at executive officer level within the Revenue Commissioners in Athlone as on the 15 October 2008; when these vacancies will be filled from the existing panels in the Public Se...More Button

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the allocation of their staff resources is kept under constant review and is subject to adjustment in the context of changing business needs and availabl...More Button

Written Answers - National Lottery Funding.

Was asked: the level of national lottery funding administered by his Department in 2007 and 2008 and anticipated lottery revenue in 2009; the amount distributed and expected to be distributed to each Department...More Button

The National Lottery Company generated a surplus of €245.480m in 2007. It is expected to generate a broadly similar or slightly higher surplus in 2008 and in 2009. The amount of lottery funding tran...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there was a fall of 10% in the amount that Irish residents held in their current accounts between August 2007 and August 2008 from €32,857 million to ...More Button

The figures quoted by the Deputy mainly relate to retail clearing credit institutions, which is a group of four banks. Looking at the situation for all Irish credit institutions, which mirrors develo...More Button

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the fact that outstanding Irish bank loans to property developers within Ireland only, were estimated to be €86.7 billion in June 2008 and that expert commentators ...More Button

I do not wish to comment on speculative comments by various commentators but as it happens most serious commentators — and the institutions themselves — expect provisions required to be a much smaller...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Code.

Was asked: if it is intended that the income levy announced in budget 2009 will apply to occupational pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The position is that the income levy will be applied to gross income except social welfare payments, including contributory and non-contributory social welfare pensions. It is also proposed to exempt ...More Button

Written Answers - Departmental Properties.

Was asked: the public buildings that are vacant or not in use in County Donegal; the amount the heating, maintenance and security of these buildings cost in 2007; and if he will provide the information in tabul...More Button

Written Answers - Car Park Levy.

Was asked: if an assessment has been carried out of the administrative cost that will be imposed on businesses in operating the new car parking space tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Details of the car parking levy will be contained in the Finance (No. 2) Bill which will be published on the 20 November. I can assure the Deputy that every effort will be made to ensure that the arr...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Code.

Was asked: if an assessment has been carried out on the administrative cost that will be imposed on businesses by changing the VAT rate in the middle of the two month VAT period; and if he will make a statement...More Button

The change in the standard VAT rate is taking effect from 1 December 2008. The change could have been made effective from 1 November 2008, the start of the preceding VAT taxable period, however, the ...More Button

Was asked: if efforts have been made to lobby members of Congress and the administration in opposition to possible changes to US corporate tax law that might adversely affect Ireland; and if he will make a stat...More Button

As I have said previously my Department and I are always mindful of potential international developments that could adversely affect foreign direct investment here. However, I am not aware of any conc...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: if he has satisfied himself that he has received full information from all of the banks operating here and the required information relating to solvency and liquidity of their institutions in the con...More Button

In accordance with the terms of the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme all covered institutions are required to provide such information or reports as I, or the Financial Regulator on my b...More Button

Written Answers - Economic Competitiveness.

Was asked: the steps he has taken or proposes to take to augment the competitiveness of the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Improving our competitive position is essential to facilitate a re-balancing of the economy towards more sustainable, export-led growth and to maintain Ireland’s attractiveness as a location for inwar...More Button

Written Answers - Departmental Expenditure.

Was asked: if he has issued instructions directly or through his Department to other Departments relating to making good, budgetary shortfalls arising now or expected to arise in the next 12 months; and if he w...More Button

Budget 2009, published on 14 October 2008, sets out the forecast outturn for Departments’ expenditure in 2008 and the Budget Estimates allocations for 2009. Departments are required to manage within ...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Institutions Support Scheme.

Was asked: if he has had contact with the banks or the Central Bank with a view to reaching agreement on strategy for the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I have met with the relevant institutions and there is ongoing contact between the Financial Services Regulator, the Central Bank, the credit institutions and officials of my Department. The Deputy w...More Button

Written Answers - Banking Sector Regulation.

Was asked: the extent to which he has taken initiatives through the EU Commission or the European Central Bank prior to action to protect the financial institutions throughout Europe; and if he will make a stat...More Button

From the outset of the financial market difficulties in August 2007 EU Finance Ministers have taken a number of steps to address the difficulties in financial markets and Ireland has of course been a ...More Button

Written Answers - Programme for Government.

Was asked: if budget 2009 is in accord with the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

The Programme for Government is a five year programme which must be judged over the full five years of the Government. However, it is now clear that we have entered a period of lower economic growth ...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Code.

Was asked: when a refund of income tax paid will be made in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the taxpayer was informed on the 2nd October 2008 that no refund of income tax is due in this case.More Button

Was asked: when a refund of tax paid will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have no record of receiving a request from the individual for a tax refund. A Tax Return, Form 12 2007, issued to the individual on 4 Novemb...More Button

Written Answers - Flood Relief.

Was asked: if he will arrange to have work carried out on the Gleann Sharron River Castleisland, County Kerry to prevent the flooding of 17 houses at Tullig, Castleisland, County Kerry; and if he will make a st...More Button

Written Answers - Departmental Staff.

Was asked: the systems his Department has in place for tracking absences from work for various reasons, for benchmarking them against best standards and for estimating the cost of cover or lost input as a resul...More Button

My Department uses the PeopleSoft Human Resource Management System (HRMS) to facilitate the collation of information relating to a wide range of absences from duty e.g. sick leave, annual leave, spec...More Button


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