I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, together.
As previously stated in the House, my Department has supported the international financial services industry in Ireland since the establishment of the IFSC in 1987, by providing a forum for the exchange of views and the co-ordination of effort through the mechanism of the IFSC clearing house group, supported by working groups in the areas of banking and treasury, funds, insurance, pensions and asset management.
Since its establishment in 1993, the clearing house group has been chaired by the Secretary General of my Department and its membership includes representatives of industry associations and prominent figures from the international financial services industry. There are also representatives from my Department, the Department of Finance, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, the Central Bank, IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, the Revenue Commissioners and the Stock Exchange.
The IFSC clearing house group identifies and considers issues of major concern to the long-term development of the international financial services industry in Ireland. These issues include the strategic development of new business areas and opportunities, and the progress of relevant legislation. From time to time, it identifies the need for responsibility to be assigned for overseeing and reporting to the Government on any appropriate initiatives in this area. The clearing house group does not deal with issues relating to individual enterprises or institutions, and does not supervise or oversee the industry; that is a matter for the Central Bank in the exercise of its independent functions.
The spread of membership of the IFSC clearing house group and the IFSC working groups enables discussion to take place in an open way, which reflects a wide range of experience and expertise, so that opportunities to develop sustainable business and employment in the various sectors of the international financial services industry can be achieved. It is estimated that the industry employs 25,000 directly in international financial services firms, while contributing €642 million in tax revenue to the Exchequer in 2009. This figure for tax revenue refers only to companies who were within the original IFSC tax regime; it does not cover international financial services companies that commenced trading after 2002.
In the context of its role in identifying development opportunities, the clearing house group has responded to the report of the high level group on green enterprise, which was published in November 2009 and identified the significant contribution that the development of the green economy can make to restoring Ireland's economy.
The green initiative concept relates to the repositioning of the IFSC to take advantage of growth in the global green economy and green finance sectors. It envisages a cluster of financial and support services for the domestic and international green-tech, renewable energy and carbon sectors. The report stated that potential exists to develop a green IFSC cluster and brand incorporating green investment vehicles, the administration of funds managed under green principles, and carbon trading and associated professional services.
A feasibility study into the launching of a green finance initiative within the IFSC was undertaken by a steering group operating under the aegis of the IFSC banking and treasury group. That study, which received support from various industry associations, professional firms, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, was presented to the IFSC clearing house group last May. Since then, considerable work has taken place regarding the development of more specific proposals to advance the initiative. It is hoped to finalise the proposals for consideration by Government in the near future.