IBRC Bond Issue

Questions (82)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

82. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide information indicating the country of origin of the purchasers of securities in the former Anglo Irish Bank in the period 2005-2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29547/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised that the process of issuing new bonds is normally through underwriting, where one or more securities firms or banks form a syndicate buying the entire bond issue from the issuer and then re-selling to investors. Primary issuance is arranged by these syndicates who contact potential investors and advise the bond issuer in terms of timing, tenor and pricing of the bond issue. The bond issuer will likely have little knowledge of the original owners of the bonds; also these initial investors may over time sell the bonds to other investors. I have been advised that the bank has no means of establishing the underlying ownership of these securities which are freely tradable once issued. These securities are publicly traded and dealt through market participants and settled by clearing house systems. An issuer does not have any access to the records of the clearing house. At maturity, the Bank will instruct its paying agent to transfer the funds due to the clearing house who will then distribute the funds to the holders of the securities as per their records. Even where the bank is presented with lists alleging to represent names of bondholders I am informed there is no way for the bank or anyone else to verifying the veracity of such lists.

Tax Code

Questions (83)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

83. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the implementation of the scheme and the process involved in the land consolidation measures that were announced in budget 2013; if he envisages legislative requirements to effect any changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29582/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I take it the question raised by the Deputy refers to consolidation measures in relation to farm land. I made provision in Budget 2013 for the following measure designed to assist farmers with consolidation of farm land. This measure followed on from measures in the previous year’s Budget which also supported farm expansion and the transfer of land.

Section 48 of Finance Act 2013 provides for relief from capital gains tax on disposals of farm land for farm restructuring, subject to a Commencement Order, which I made on 6 June 2013.

The relief applies to a sale, purchase or exchange of agricultural land in the period from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2015 where Teagasc has certified that a sale and purchase or an exchange of agricultural land was made for farm restructuring purposes. The initial sale or purchase, or the exchange, must occur in the relevant period and the subsequent sale or purchase must occur within 24 months of that sale or purchase.

Teagasc will consider an application for a farm restructuring certificate using guidelines made by my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine with my consent. These guidelines will be finalised shortly.

Full relief from capital gains tax will be given where the consideration for the purchase or the exchange is equal to or exceeds the consideration for the sale or the other land that is exchanged. Where the consideration for the purchase or the exchange is less than the consideration for the land that is sold or the other land that is exchanged, relief will be given in the same proportion that the consideration for the land that is purchased or exchanged bears to the consideration for the land that is sold or the other land that is exchanged.

Provision is made for the clawback of the relief where qualifying land in respect of which relief has been given is disposed of within 5 years of the date of the purchase or exchange of that land. A clawback does not apply where the disposal arises under a compulsory purchase order.

Departmental Funding

Questions (84)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

84. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Finance the resources available to him, both within and outside his Department, in terms of expert statistical analysis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29592/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

My Department has a statistics unit led by a statistician on secondment from the CSO. This unit is responsible for providing an input into all general government statistical matters within the Department. The CSO is Ireland’s national statistical office and meets the needs of government for the provision of quality statistical information. Although existing as an independent body the CSO is available as an external resource for the Department in relation to the supply and clarification of statistical information and related issues. Communication with the CSO is enhanced by the presence of the CSO statistician permanently assigned to the Department of Finance, referred to above.

Further to the CSO as a direct resource, my Department also interacts with independent bodies such as the ESRI and academics and uses statistical data from the Eurostat, OECD, IMF and AMECO databases in its analysis.

In addition to the statistics unit there are fifty three staff members with Masters qualifications in finance related areas who utilise these skills in a variety of disciplines including economics, finance, banking and accounting.

The Economics Division supplies the Minister with economic analysis and forecasting including the development of macroeconomic projections, economic risk assessment, inflation forecasting, long-term forecasting and the development of economic analysis underpinning fiscal policy and sectoral economic analysis.

The approved staff complement of this division is 16 positions of which 3 are currently vacant.

All economics staff hold graduate qualifications in the area. In addition the division has a range of econometrics software available for use including Gretl and RATS as well as a subscription to the Macrobond data service.

Fuel Laundering

Questions (85)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

85. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance when Revenue and Gardaí will put a stop to the sale of washed diesel (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29606/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners who have responsibility for the collection of mineral oil tax that they are very mindful of the threat that fuel laundering poses both to the exchequer and to legitimate businesses. Revenue has made action against fuel laundering one of its priorities and is implementing a comprehensive strategy to tackle the problem. This strategy included strengthening the licensing conditions for auto-fuel traders in 2011 and the introduction of a new licensing system for marked fuel traders last October. In addition, since January, all licenced fuel traders are required to make electronic returns to Revenue of their fuel transactions each month. These measures are designed to make it difficult for fuel criminals to source marked fuel for laundering and to get laundered product onto the market. Analysis of the monthly returns of fuel trading will enable Revenue to identify suspicious or anomalous fuel transactions and patterns of distribution. Analysis of the first few months of returns data is well advanced and traders involved in suspicious activity will be investigated and if they are unable to account properly for the source or disposal of product will face revocation of their licence, tax assessment and prosecution where appropriate. In addition, Revenue and HM Revenue & Customs in the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding in May 2012 on a joint approach to finding a more effective marker for use in both jurisdictions. A number of proposals for a new marker submitted in response to an Invitation to Make Submissions are currently being evaluated. The outcome of this process is expected later this year.

Revenue, in co-operation with other law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border, continues to intensify enforcement action against fuel fraud. Revenue’s strategy has already yielded significant results to date. In the past two years 97 filling stations throughout the State were closed for breaches of licensing conditions. Since the beginning of 2010, over 2.5 million litres of fuel have been seized and 29 oil laundries detected and closed down, including 5 oil laundries in 2013 to date.

I strongly support the work of Revenue in tackling diesel laundering and a critical step in tackling this trade is to close down the supply chain and the retail outlets that sell washed diesel. Revenue has worked closely with the industry in developing and implementing its current strategy. The legitimate retail trade can also contribute to closing down this illegitimate trade by providing information on the outlets that are selling washed diesel.

If the Deputy has more detailed information in relation to fuel laundering in the Tralee area mentioned he should forward it to the Revenue Commissioners. Revenue chairs the Hidden Economy Monitoring Group (HEMG) and has established Regional sub-groups of the HEMG to facilitate the reporting of information by traders through their representative associations. If the local retailers have suspicions or evidence that laundered diesel is being sold in the area they should report this through their representative associations to the Revenue. Such reports are treated as confidential and are fully investigated by Revenue.

Tax Reliefs Availability

Questions (86)

Finian McGrath

Question:

86. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an update on an amendment to the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 and the issue of physiotherapy expenses (details supplied). [29614/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The position is, as I have stated on many occasions in the House, that this issue was raised during the debates in the Seanad on the Finance Bill 2013, during which I agreed to re-examine the matter during the course of this year. My Department is currently in the process of examining the issue and when the analysis is completed and the findings are presented to me, I will make any necessary decisions in the context of Finance (No 2) Bill 2013.

Haddington Road Agreement Issues

Questions (87)

Finian McGrath

Question:

87. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will clarify if the 7% cut to teachers and public servants salaries is on the whole salary for those over €65,000 or just the amount above €65,000; the impact this cut will have on a persons pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29485/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The pay reduction under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013 will apply from 1 July 2013 for public servants, including teachers, on salaries of €65,000 and greater (inclusive of allowances in the nature of pay). The details of the reductions are enclosed in the attached table. The 5.5% reduction applies to all salary below €80,000, not solely the portion of salary which is between €65,000 and €80,000. However, salaries will not fall below €65,000 as a result of the application of this reduction. Where a trade union representing teachers has agreed to be bound by the Haddington Road Agreement and has registered that Agreement with the Labour Relations Commission, alleviation measures will apply in the case of those teachers who lose pensionable pay both through the pay reduction and the withdrawal of the supervision and substitution allowance under the Agreement. A teacher who retires on or before 31 August 2014 will have their superannuation benefits calculated by reference to the payscales applying on 30 June 2013.

Pay adjustments under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013 and under the Haddington Road Agreement

Annualised amount of Remuneration

Reduction

Any amount up to €80,000

5.5%

Any amount over €80,000 but not over €150,000

8%

Any amount over €150,000 but not over €185,000

9%

Any amount over €185,000

10%

School Staffing

Questions (88)

Michael McCarthy

Question:

88. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a progress report on a shared appeal by schools (details supplied) in County Cork relating to a refusal for EAL support. [29439/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The criteria used for the allocation of teachers to schools is published annually on the Department's website. The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September. The staffing arrangements for the coming school year 2013/14 are set out in Circular 0013/2013 which is available on the website. The staffing appeal process at primary level includes the provision whereby schools with a high concentration of pupils requiring English as an additional language (EAL) can apply for further additional temporary language support posts. The appeal criteria are set out in the staffing schedule, Circular 0013/2013. The Primary Staffing Appeal Board is due to hold its next meeting on 20th June. The school referred to by the Deputy has submitted an appeal under the EAL criterion. The school will be notified of the decision of the Appeal Board as soon as possible after that date. The Primary Staffing Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.