Company Law

Questions (119)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

119. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of meetings that he or senior officials have had with the American Chamber of Commence in relation to the Companies Bill; and if these meetings addressed the issue of Irish registered non-resident companies. [26382/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

Neither I nor my officials have had any meetings with the American Chamber of Commerce to discuss the Companies Bill 2012.

Non-Resident Companies

Question No. 121 answered with Question No. 115.

Questions (120)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

120. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will make public any representations by the Industrial Development Agency in regard to the operation of the Irish registered non-resident companies. [26383/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

IDA Ireland is the agency with statutory responsibility for the attraction of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Ireland and its regions. In executing its mandate, IDA Ireland engages with corporate entities, as the primary decision makers around FDI investment. The Agency's key focus is on maximising the level of economic activity and substance in Ireland from these corporations. IDA Ireland is a marketing organisation not a tax advisory body. In the course of its engagement with client companies, IDA Ireland provides general information to companies on the Irish tax regime while companies and their financial advisors engage separately and directly with the Revenue Commissioners, as required. In my regular meetings with the Chairman and Chief Executive of IDA Ireland a broad range of issues are discussed, including matters that are of concern to the Agency’s client companies. For reasons of client confidentiality and commercial sensitivity details of these discussions are not divulged to third parties. I can confirm, however, that I have had no meetings with representatives of IDA Ireland on the issue of the operation of Irish registered non-resident companies.

Question No. 121 answered with Question No. 115.

Health and Safety Regulations

Questions (122)

Noel Grealish

Question:

122. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the way the safety, health and welfare at work regulations, due to be in force from 1 June, will affect the owners of buy-to-let properties who wish to upgrade; the reason these regulations apply to small domestic projects; if any small buy-to-let or domestic building work is excluded and, if so, the criteria for such exclusion; if he will accept that when a house owner, whether domestic or buy-to-let, engages a builder, the expectation is that the builder alone has the expertise to comply with the regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26424/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

On 23 November 2012, the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 (S.I. No. 461 of 2012) were signed, these Regulations had a deferred operational date of 1 June 2013. The main provision of these Regulations was the change in the definition of client by removing the phrase "in the course or furtherance of a trade, business or undertaking, or who undertakes a project directly in the course or furtherance of such trade, business or undertaking;". This removal means that domestic home owners having construction works carried out on their own domestic dwellings will from 1 June 2013 have certain responsibilities under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2006 to 2012.

Occupational health and safety is as important on a small domestic construction site as it is on a larger commercial site, possibly more so. Evidence has shown that between 2010 and 2012 many serious injuries and 11 deaths have occurred on domestic construction sites. The extension of responsibilities to include domestic home owners as clients will help combat such fatalities and serious injuries on domestic construction sites. Furthermore, in 2009 the European Commission began Infringement proceedings against Ireland regarding, amongst other things, the exclusion of domestic home owners from the definition of client. The introduction of the change in definition is necessary for Ireland to comply with our obligations under European law and avoid substantial fines for the taxpayer.

Arguably, the increased standards will promote the use of experienced competent and reputable contractors thereby reducing undeclared work in the shadow economy. The Deputy refers to the owners of buy to let properties, I would like to point out that there will be no change to the responsibilities for such owners as landlords always had responsibilities to make appointments under the Construction Regulations as their properties would be considered within the criteria for a trade, business or undertaking. I would also point out that in relation to works carried out on domestic dwellings health and safety requirements existed prior to the introduction of this amendment.

The provisions of the Construction Regulations apply to the contractors by way of their responsibilities to their employees in relation to provision of a safe place of work. The provisions of the Construction Regulations will now relate to all works that fall within the definition of construction work. This definition corresponds with that in Directive 92/57/EEC on implementing the minimum health and safety requirements at temporary or mobile construction sites. Exclusions to such provisions apply in situations where there is only one contractor on site and where there is no particular risk involved, and where the work does not exceed 30 days duration. Where individuals require advice on whether the works they are having done will require them to make appointments under the Construction Regulations they can consult the Health and Safety Authority for clarification. There are a number of tasks that are not affected by the change in the definition of client as they do not fall within the definition of construction work, for example routine home DIY, grass cutting, painting your garden fence, cleaning your windows, replacing your locks or getting new blinds fitted.

There is a responsibility on all persons engaging others to carry out construction works to ensure themselves that the person they engage are competent to carry out the tasks they are engaged to do. The Health and Safety Authority have suggested a number of ways to assist domestic homeowners to assess competence, such as looking for certificates of competence in the trades involved or asking about previous works carried out and speaking to previous clients. The Authority is producing a helpful guide aimed directly at home owners having construction work carried out in their own homes, this will be available on the HSA’s website (www.hsa.ie). A guide to assist contractors carrying out construction work on domestic dwellings will also be available and the Authority's workplace contact unit is available to the public to offer any assistance required (Lo Call 1890 289 389).

Upon the making of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 (S.I. No. 461 of 2012), I asked the HSA to carry out a full review of the provisions of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2006 to 2012 and produce a consolidated set of Regulations. As part of this review I asked that the HSA identify revisions that can be effected to reduce the regulatory burden imposed on all clients in construction, while not diminishing workplace health and safety standards. A provision in the Regulations imposes a duty on a contractor to advise a client of his or her responsibilities under the Construction Regulations, where the contractor becomes aware of a situation where the client is not complying with their responsibilities. This consolidated set of Regulations will be in place shortly and will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas as required by the Statutory Instruments Acts 1947 and 1955.

EU Enlargement

Questions (123, 124)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

123. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he intends to allow citizens of Croatia to have full access to the jobs market here under European Union freedom of movement of workers rules; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26447/13]

View answer

Andrew Doyle

Question:

124. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation when he expects legislation to amend the Employment Permits Acts of 2003 and 2006 to be brought before the Houses of the Oireachtas to allow citizens of Croatia, the newest member of the European Union, full access to the employment sector here from 1 July 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26448/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 123 and 124 together.

On 9 December 2011, Croatia signed the Treaty of Accession to become the EU's 28th Member State. Ireland signed the Instrument of Ratification for the Croatian Accession Treaty on 21 September 2012. The ratification process, by the parliaments of all 27 EU Member States, is expected to be concluded by the end of June 2013. Therefore, entry into force and accession of Croatia to the EU is expected to take place on 1 July 2013. An assessment has been made, in light of analysis and recent data, of the possible impact on the labour market by granting access. The assessment included a review conducted by Forfás which considered the likely impact of opening access to the Irish labour market to Croatian nationals following Croatia's accession to the EU.

A number of factors are noted in respect of this issue. Firstly, it is highly unlikely that significant numbers of Croatians wish to migrate to Ireland. Ireland's current economic status presents a very weak ‘pull’ factor for Croatians. There are low numbers of job vacancies except in areas experiencing a shortfall in skills supply e.g. Information Technology – additional migrants to such sectors would be welcome. International studies show that migration is heavily influenced by existing migrant populations and established social networks in the destination country. Eurostat estimates that there are approximately 350,000 Croatian nationals currently resident in the EU. Germany, Austria and Italy account for 91% of Croatian nationals living within the EU. According to the 2011 Census, there are only 846 Croatian nationals resident in Ireland. There is therefore not a sufficient population of Croatians in Ireland at present to create an attracting factor.

There is a very low propensity for Croatians to emigrate. A Gallup survey undertaken in 2010 suggests that the numbers of Croatians with firm intentions of leaving Croatia are relatively low (only 0.1% of the adult population or 4,000 people were considering moving permanently from Croatia in the following 12 months). Ireland did not feature as a target destination. This corresponds with Employment Permits data concerning nationals of Croatia where only 12 employment permits were issued in 2012 in respect of Croatian nationals. Secondly, in quantitative terms the size of Croatia’s labour force is relatively small with a total labour force of 1.78 million with only circa 350,000 people in the 25-34 age group (generally the most mobile demographic of a country’s population). Ireland's labour market, in line with EU obligations, is already open to an EU workforce of 229 million.

Thirdly, experience suggests that opening access to the Irish labour market may not have a significant impact on the State's services. PPS numbers are a unique reference number issued to persons when transacting with Government Departments and other Public Bodies. The experience in respect of Bulgaria (a country with a labour market twice the size of Croatia and to which Ireland gave full access to its labour market in 2012) suggests that only a modest increase arose in respect of PPS registrations which could not be described as having a distortionary impact on the Irish labour market.

Fourthly, a further factor borne in mind when estimating the impact of access versus restrictions to a labour market, is the issue of undeclared work. The Government decision pertains only to employment - Croatians will, in any event, enjoy certain rights afforded to all EU citizens from 1 July and will therefore be able to reside in Ireland subject to restrictions under the Residence Directive. Such nationals will be able to study, work as self-employed, or establish businesses here. Applying restrictions to employment when it is possible work as self-employed can increase the potential for undeclared work. The main problem with undeclared work is that workers fall outside the tax net. They are also more likely to undercut minimum wages in low-skilled jobs and might contribute to the observed unemployment rate if this undeclared work displaces jobs among registered members of the labour force.

Finally, it was noted that Ireland has an excellent relationship with Croatia and it is important that this relationship is developed further for the benefit of both countries. Bearing in mind that Croatia applied for membership of the EU under Ireland's last Presidency of the EU it is timely that Croatia will join the EU just after the conclusion of Ireland's Presidency of the Council of the EU. By providing full access, Ireland is continuing its policy of openness to new Member States and highlights the need for continued EU solidarity. Based on the evidence available, Forfás concludes that it is unlikely that Croatia's entry to the EU will have a significant distortionary impact on the Irish labour market and recommended that transitional arrangements should not be applied in the case of Croatian nationals seeking to work in Ireland following Croatia's accession to the EU. In light of all these issues, Government has decided not to exercise an option under the Treaty to restrict access to Ireland’s labour market for nationals of Croatia. As legislation must be enacted in order to give legal effect to the opening of Ireland's labour market to Croatia upon its EU accession, the Bill will be introduced as soon as possible.

Trade Relations

Questions (125)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

125. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the recommendation that Ireland made to the European Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, on his proposal that the European Union impose a 47% tariff on imported Chinese solar panels and telecommunications equipment; if he joined other member states in pressing the Commission to drop the proposed import tariffs; his policy in relation to this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26456/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The European Commission initiated anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations on imports from China of crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules (Solar Panels) and key components. The anti-dumping investigation opened on 6 September 2012 and the anti-subsidy investigation commenced on 8 November 2012. These investigations followed a complaint from EU Producers. The Commission proposed the imposition of provisional duties and Member States were required to submit their opinion by 24 May 2013. Ireland voted against these measures as it was judged that they were not in the overall interest of the European Union and in order to facilitate discussions between China and the EU. On 27 May the EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht met China’s Vice Minister for Commerce, Mr Zhong Shan, to discuss the solar panel investigations by the EU. The EU is prepared to enter into talks with China to find a negotiated solution to this matter. However any negotiations would only start if and when a decision is taken on the application of provisional tariffs. The legal deadline for this decision is 5 June.

On 15 May 2013, the European Commission announced that it had taken a decision in principle to open an ex officio investigation into imports of mobile telecoms networks from China. This decision will not be activated for the time being to allow for negotiations towards an amicable solution with the Chinese authorities. Commissioner De Gucht will revert to the College of Commissioners in due course on this matter. An ex-officio case involves an anti-dumping or anti-subsidy investigation initiated and undertaken by the EU Commission where it has not received a formal complaint from producers, for example, of unfair trading practices.

Immigration Status

Questions (126)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

126. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the extent to which regularisation of status will be undertaken in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26522/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

The regularisation of status of the person named in terms of prescribed immigration requirements falls within the remit of the Irish National Immigration Service under the auspices of the Department of Justice and Equality. Under the provisions of the Employment Permits Acts 2003 and 2006 the person named is obliged to hold a valid employment permit before taking up employment in this country. There is no record of a work permit application in respect of this person in my Department.

Departmental Budgets

Questions (127)

Seán Fleming

Question:

127. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he has received any indicative figure from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform regarding the fiscal adjustments his Department will be asked to make in 2014 and 2015; the size of those adjustments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26551/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Jobs)

In the context of the forthcoming Budget, scheduled for publication in October, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has asked my Department to identify savings which will feed into the expenditure decisions by Government for the Estimates 2014 and the setting of future Ministerial ceilings. The identification of savings options should ensure that a sufficient range of proposals are made by all Departments to help the Government make well-informed choices about spending priorities and allocations. The scale of the adjustments for 2014 was set out in part 1 of the Expenditure Report 2013, which was published in December 2012. Government will be making decisions on the future ceilings as part of the forthcoming budgetary deliberations.