Vehicle Registration Issues

Questions (85)

John McGuinness

Question:

85. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance if he sees merit in suggestions for purchasers of new cars to receive a vehicle registration tax rebate when they trade in a car less than ten years old against a new one; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31918/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Any proposal in the VRT area will be considered in the context of the annual Budget.

Mortgage Interest Rates Issues

Questions (86)

Seán Crowe

Question:

86. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider legislating to force lenders in covered institutions which have been rescued by the taxpayer to seek permission from the Financial Regulator when varying their mortgage interest rates. [31875/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I, as Minister for Finance, have no statutory role in relation to the mortgage interest rates charged by regulated financial institutions. It is a commercial matter for the banks concerned. The Central Bank has responsibility for the regulation and supervision of financial institutions in terms of consumer protection and prudential requirements and for ensuring ongoing compliance with applicable statutory obligations. The Central Bank has, however, no statutory role in the setting of interest rates by financial institutions, apart from the interest rate cap imposed on the credit union sector in accordance with the provisions of the Credit Union Act, 1997.

The mortgage interest rates that financial institutions operating in Ireland charge to customers are determined as a result of a commercial decision by the institutions concerned. This interest rate is determined taking into account a broad range of factors, including European Central Bank base rates, deposit rates, market funding costs, the competitive environment and an institution’s overall funding.

However, as part of the Central Bank’s work on mortgage arrears, lenders were asked to consider all avenues to help customers in arrears, including interest rate reductions. Currently, several lenders do consider a temporary interest rate reduction but this is on a case by case basis.

Mortgage Arrears Rate

Questions (87, 177, 191, 290)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

87. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Finance his views on the mortgage arrears figures for the first quarter of 2013; the reason the numbers in mortgage distress continue to increase; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31865/13]

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Joe McHugh

Question:

177. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance his views on long-term mortgage arrears; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31515/13]

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Pearse Doherty

Question:

191. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the date on which the end of quarter two figures for mortgage resolutions targets will be published. [31709/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

290. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which he and his Department continues to monitor the situation regarding mortgage arrears with particular reference to the need to ensure that homeowners who have fallen into arrears through no fault of their own are not unfairly treated and that cognisance is taken of the facts of each individual case particularly where, through loss of income or loss of employment has resulted in arrears; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32301/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 87, 177, 191 and 290 together.

The recent mortgage arrears and repossession statistics indicated that 95,554 (12.3%) of principal dwelling mortgage accounts were in arrears of over 90 days at the end of March 2013. While this represented an increase of around 3,200 accounts on the position as at end 2012, the rate of increase, while still upward, is not as strong as that which generally prevailed in recent years. The main reason for the increase in the level of mortgage arrears is of course the prevailing economic situation with the high level of unemployment, reduced disposable income and a decline in property prices all contributing to this. The mortgage arrears problem is a major problem that needs to be resolved for the long term economic and social health of the country and the Government has now put in place a comprehensive strategy to tackle the problem.

The Central Bank compiles and publishes quarterly mortgage arrears and repossession statistics for both primary domestic homes (PDH) and buy-to-let (BTL) mortgages and my Department closely monitors these statistics closely. Regarding future mortgage arrears data, the Central Bank will, over the coming months, commence the publication of additional statistics which will be designed to provide more information on the level of progress in relation to mortgage arrears resolution. One such measure is the number of newly agreed loan modifications during each reference quarter. This will be captured for both temporary and permanent mortgage restructure types. A second measure of progress is the performance of restructured loans. Current data collection only allows the user to identify whether a restructured account is in arrears or not; it does not capture information on those accounts that still have old arrears outstanding but which are meeting the terms of the new restructured arrangement. Reporting performance against specific resolution targets, as well as the full suite of key performance indicator data, should provide a more complete measure of progress in addressing arrears cases.

The necessary overall strategy and building blocks to address long term mortgage arrears are now in place. These include the Central Bank targets initiative, the new Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears, the fundamental change to personal insolvency legislation including the provision of new, more accessible and less penal resolution mechanisms to debtors and a comprehensive mortgage information and advice service. The main onus is now on lenders to move to address individual arrears cases in a comprehensive and speedy manner.

Mortgage Arrears Proposals

Questions (88, 114, 118)

John Browne

Question:

88. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Finance his views on the negligible number of split mortgage arrangements in place to deal with distressed borrowers at the end of March 2013; if he has sought assurances that the banks are putting in place genuinely long-term solutions as required by the mortgage arrears resolutions targets programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31898/13]

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Catherine Murphy

Question:

114. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if he will indicate the measures he intends to take to seriously engage with the ongoing critical problem of mortgage arrears in view of the worsening statistics from the Central Bank; if he is considering recommending fresh measures that are effective in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31946/13]

View answer

Martin Ferris

Question:

118. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance his views on the use of split mortgages as a means of dealing with the mortgage crisis; if he will intervene to prevent some lenders charging interest on the split portion of mortgages; and if he will state how he believes the residual split at the end of the term should be managed. [31864/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 88, 114 and 118 together.

The “split mortgage” was suggested by the Inter-Departmental Mortgage Arrears Working Group (Keane Report) as one of the possible viable options for restructuring a mortgage in certain circumstances. The concept of a “split mortgage” involves splitting a distressed mortgage into an affordable mortgage and warehousing the balance. I am informed by the Central Bank that the majority of lenders have now introduced, or are in the process of introducing, a “split mortgage” as one of the alternative repayment arrangements to restructure a mortgage. While lenders have taken the broad approach set out in the Keane report, the product details vary from lender to lender. The most notable difference involves the interest rate charged on the warehoused element of the split mortgage and this varies from 0% up to the full mortgage interest rate. Also, the maximum amount that can be warehoused is dependent on each lenders own internal criteria. The split mortgage, like all other forbearance and modification arrangements, is based on affordability and sustainability of the arrangement from both the borrower and the lender’s perspective. There is also a commercial and contractual leeway for the lender in formulating the details of any particular restructure or alternative repayment arrangement from the initial contractual requirements.

As lenders offer split mortgages with differing terms and conditions, the main supervisory issue is one of transparency and the Central Bank is of the view that all lenders should make public all terms and conditions and eligibility criteria for a “split mortgage” to aid both customers and financial advisors. In addition, the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears will require the lender, where an alternative repayment arrangement is offered, to outline the reasons why the alternative arrangement offered is considered to be appropriate and sustainable, as well as the advantages and any disadvantages or potential disadvantages of any arrangement offered, in the context of the individual circumstances of the borrower.

While the Central Bank engagement with lenders to require them to propose options for the sustainable resolution of mortgage difficulty is a major element of the strategy to deal with the mortgage arrears problem, other measures are also important. Among these is the reform of personal insolvency legislation with more accessible and effective debt resolution mechanisms being made available to debtors and the less penal character of debtor insolvency.

The necessary overall strategy and building blocks to address the mortgage arrears problem are, therefore, now in place. These include the Central Bank targets initiative, the new Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears, the fundamental change to personal insolvency legislation including the provision of new, more accessible and less penal resolution mechanisms to debtors and a comprehensive mortgage information and advice service.

The onus is now on lenders to move to address individual arrears cases in a comprehensive and speedy manner. Therefore, I expect the banks to increase the number of “split mortgage” and the other long term restructured mortgage arrangements put in place over the remainder of this year.

As part of the process banks are requested to make regular returns to the Central Bank on their performance against the targets and the Central Bank will audit the performance of the lenders in this regard. I can assure the Deputy that, both my Department and I will keep in close liaison with the Central Bank and individual banks on this important issue.

Tax Code

Questions (89)

Martin Ferris

Question:

89. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance if he has been in contact with any of the treaty countries that the State has tax arrangements with and have been mentioned alongside Ireland as providing the international loopholes for multinational corporations, with a view to curtailing the loopholes. [31878/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As I have said in answer to other Parliamentary Questions, company profits charged in Ireland fully reflect the functions, assets and risks located here by multinational groups. Profits charged here are aligned with real economic activity here - and these profits are charged at 12.5%. Very low rates computed in some cases are got by dividing the Irish tax by the sum of Irish profits and foreign profits of multinational companies. International tax planning opportunities largely arise from the interaction of different countries’ national tax laws and from international tax rules not keeping pace with current organization of multinational business. Addressing such issues comprehensively is beyond the scope of individual national tax systems or bilateral agreements between them.

The way to deal with international mismatches, gaps and loopholes effectively is for countries to work together on a multilateral basis to consider how national rules can be coordinated and international rules can be amended to address these issues. Ireland is committed to this approach and supports the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, which is specifically concerned with addressing these issues. Ireland has concluded tax treaties with all member countries of the OECD, all of which have signed up to the BEPS project.

IBRC Liquidation

Question No. 91 answered with Question No. 77.

Questions (90)

Michael Colreavy

Question:

90. Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Finance the reason persons (details supplied) were employed by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation under this Government; if he will outline the amount they were paid since the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank; and if he will outline the severance and pension package each received. [31860/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I have been advised by the Special Liquidators that they cannot comment on the remuneration packages of individual staff members of IBRC (in Special Liquidation). I have been advised by the Special Liquidators that any amounts paid by way of severance packages were in line with the packages paid to all employees of the bank. In relation to employees at the time of the liquidation, where relevant, senior executives are entitled to apply for a statutory redundancy payment, a payment in respect of accrued but unused annual leave and a statutory notice payment, subject to limits prescribed by statute.

Question No. 91 answered with Question No. 77.

Tax Code

Questions (92)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

92. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the Lough Erne declaration on corporation tax will pose difficulties for Ireland in attracting and retaining foreign investment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31922/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

At their historic Lough Erne meeting, the G8 held a very useful discussion on tax issues, culminating in the Lough Erne Declaration. This declaration outlined G8's commitment to "make a real difference" in ten particular areas. Four of these areas relate to tax. The Taoiseach has already welcomed the Declaration and asserted that it did not present a problem for Ireland. Perhaps the single most important element of the ten point plan was in relation to the automatic exchange of information to fight the scourge of tax evasion. Ireland fully supports this objective. A lot of our efforts in the tax area during the Irish Presidency were focussed on countering tax fraud and evasion, whether this arose in specific tax dossiers, such as VAT or Savings, or whether in a more general sense, such as the Council's response to the Commission's Action Plan and associated Recommendations. In that regard, following a very successful discussion at the Informal ECOFIN which was held in Dublin Castle in April, myself and Commissioner Semeta issued a joint letter to all Ecofin Ministers urging quick progress on seven particular tax proposals. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that progress has been made in all seven areas.

Ireland has nothing to fear from the Lough Erne Declaration. The technical discussions aimed at achieving the aspirations contained in the Declaration have been underway for some time by way of the OECD's Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project. Ireland is deeply involved in the BEPS discussions, a fact that has recently been acknowledged by the Director of the OECD's Committee on Fiscal Affairs. We look forward to seeing the final results of this work.

Banks Recapitalisation

Question No. 94 answered with Question No. 77.

Questions (93)

Joe Higgins

Question:

93. Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Finance following the release of recordings of senior Anglo Irish Bank executives, his views on the apparent deception by Anglo Irish Bank on the level of recapitalisation required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31894/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Like every citizen in this country who is working hard to restore the Irish economy I am deeply disturbed by the taped conversations involving Anglo executives in 2008 and dismayed to hear senior banking executives refer to the banking crisis with such arrogance. The Irish taxpayer has grimly endured the austere cost of the Bank recapitalisation and the bank guarantee. They are understandably outraged by these revelations. Irish citizens have suffered greatly as a direct result of the banking crisis and the events which have led to the bank guarantee. The recent revelations will only serve to reinforce the Government’s resolve to move this country back in the right direction by tightening up regulation and enforcing it.

The Government is determined to ensure the public is informed about what happened in Irish Banks and has published the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill which, once enacted, will provide the legal framework for a banking inquiry to be held within the current constitutional parameters.

Question No. 94 answered with Question No. 77.

Banking Sector Regulation

Questions (95, 113)

John Halligan

Question:

95. Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Finance if he believes the revelations contained in the recently publicised Anglo tapes have any implications for Government policy in relation to banking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31853/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

113. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which adequate provisions have been put in place to prevent a recurrence of the recently disclosed activities at the former Anglo Irish Bank; the degree to which the regulatory structures now in place are adequate in all circumstances; if it is recognised that the integrity of the Irish banking system is dependent on adherence to good governance in line with best international practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31886/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 95 and 113 together.

As there are a number of inquiries and investigations on-going into matters at the former Anglo Irish Bank, I am restricted in what I can say in relation to the recently disclosed activities at the former bank. I have already said that I found the taped conversations appalling. The Government is determined to find out exactly what happened and we propose to establish an inquiry to do exactly that. I have noted that the Governor of the Central Bank has also indicated that the Central Bank is examining the scope for action against those involved in the recently released tapes.

On the question of regulatory reforms, the Central Bank Reform Act 2010 was a crucial first step in the introduction of a new fully-integrated single structure within the Central Bank. It provided a statutory basis for a comprehensive domestic regulatory framework for financial services and set out new powers for the Central Bank to ensure the fitness and probity of nominees to key positions within financial service providers.

The Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Bill 2011, which is being considered at Report stage in the Seanad, further strengthens the ability of the Central Bank to impose and supervise compliance with regulatory requirements and to undertake timely prudential interventions. The reforms being brought in under the Bill are complemented by a number of strategically important reforms at EU level in financial services. Agreement has been reached on the single supervisory mechanism, one of the main cornerstones of Banking Union, which will provide for the European Central Bank to act as supervisor for systemic important banks throughout the Union. Agreement has also been reached on the Capital Requirements package which will ensure that European banks hold enough good quality capital to withstand future economic and financial shocks. Member States have also agreed in principle the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation and Directive.

In terms of promoting good corporate governance, I would also point to the Central Bank’s 2011 Corporate Governance Code for Credit Institutions and Insurance Undertakings which imposes minimum core standards upon all credit institutions and insurance undertakings licensed or authorised by the Central Bank.

Budget 2014 Issues

Questions (96)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

96. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Finance in the absence of a revised medium term fiscal statement in 2013, if he plans to provide an update on the size and composition of the 2014 fiscal adjustment prior to budget day; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31917/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy is aware, Budget day will be on or before the 15th of October each year from now on, in line with the requirements of the two-pack of European Regulations formally adopted on the 30th of May 2013. Given that the Medium Term Fiscal Statement (MTFS) was published each October/November in prior years, it is proposed to incorporate the information normally published in the MTFS into the Budget Documentation. As such, the size and composition of adjustment will form part of the budgetary discussions themselves and will not be published prior to Budget day. I would like to reiterate that the Government remains committed to reducing the deficit below 3 per cent of GDP by 2015 and all budgetary decisions will be made with this overarching objective in mind.

EU Budget

Questions (97)

Brian Stanley

Question:

97. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Finance the steps he is taking to ensure that Ireland does not continue to overpay the EU through the use of inflated gross national income distorted by redomiciled companies. [31871/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy will be aware, Ireland’s contribution to the EU Budget is an obligation of EU membership and is a charge on the Central Fund under national legislation. The contribution formula for the EU Budget is comprised of Traditional Own Resources, a VAT-based payment and a residual balancing component paid in accordance with a contribution key derived from each Member State’s share of EU Gross National Income (GNI). This GNI element accounts for approximately two-thirds of Ireland’s contribution to the EU Budget. The CSO prepares the GNI figures for Ireland in accordance with European and international statistical standards. In line with these methodologies, as the re-domiciled companies to which the Deputy refers are resident in Ireland, they must be incorporated in our national accounts. It should also be noted that revisions to Irish economic data are frequent due to the output fluctuations in the large multinational sector operating here. Indeed, should the position related to these re-domiciled firms unwind, this would serve to lower GNI, which would in turn reduce our EU contribution in future years.

The Deputy will be aware that the use of GNI as a contribution key favours Ireland, as unlike other countries this is significantly lower than our GDP. While my Department will continue to monitor the situation closely, it should be noted that under the current 2007 – 2013 MFF, Ireland has remained a net beneficiary from the EU Budget over the whole period. Furthermore, it is anticipated that Ireland will, almost certainly, continue to be a net beneficiary for the next number of years.

Money Laundering

Questions (98, 169, 174, 190, 210, 239, 240, 243, 253, 254, 255, 268, 269, 270, 272, 273, 275)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

98. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Finance in relation to the anti-money laundering requirements applied to the purchase of prize bonds over €25 in value, if he has given consideration to the fact that this limit may have a detrimental impact on the sale of prize bonds; if a better balance could be achieved between the need for appropriate anti-money laundering requirements and convenience for ordinary customers who wish to purchase prize bonds as gifts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31890/13]

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Kevin Humphreys

Question:

169. Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance if there are plans to change the anti-money laundering requirements that apply to the purchase of prize bonds; if anti-money laundering requirements will apply to purchases of prize bonds over €25; if he will consider setting the limit to €100; if he will elaborate on the reasons for such a low limit being applied; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31647/13]

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Robert Troy

Question:

174. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance if he will reconsider the requirement to have anti-money laundering requirements for prize bond purchases as they are very restrictive and may impact on the sales of same. [32082/13]

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Kevin Humphreys

Question:

190. Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance his plans to change the anti-money laundering requirements that apply to the purchase of prize bonds; if anti-money laundering requirements will apply to purchases of prize bonds over €25; if he will consider setting the limit to €100; the reasons for such a low limit being applied; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31707/13]

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Willie Penrose

Question:

210. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance if in the context of the changes proposed in respect of anti-money laundering requirements for the purchase of prize bonds, if he will explore the achievement of a better balance in respect of the proposals, between the need for appropriate AML requirements, and convenience for ordinary customers who wish to purchase prize bonds as gifts and that AML identification requirements would only apply to the purchase of prize bonds over €100 in value, rather than the proposed limited of €25; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31754/13]

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Joe McHugh

Question:

239. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if he will update Dáil Éireann on the requirement for application of anti-money laundering requirements on the purchase of prize bonds over €25 in value; and if he will engage with the Irish Postmasters' Union on this issue. [31820/13]

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Andrew Doyle

Question:

240. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Finance the current anti-money laundering requirements for Prize Bonds; his views on whether the current level is sufficient; if he has considered raising or lowering this threshold; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many bonds are sold and given as gifts by persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31821/13]

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Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

243. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the concerns raised regarding the proposed introduction of anti-money laundering requirements to prize bonds purchases over €25 in value; if he will consider raising this threshold to €100; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31843/13]

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Terence Flanagan

Question:

253. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if any consideration has been given to setting a limit of €100 before an anti-money laundering identification requirement is applied for the purchase of prize bonds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32003/13]

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Terence Flanagan

Question:

254. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he has any concerns that the anti-money laundering identification requirement applied to the purchase of prize bonds over €25 in value will be inconvenient for ordinary customers who want to purchase prize bonds as gifts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32004/13]

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Nicky McFadden

Question:

255. Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Finance if changes in respect of anti-money laundering requirements for the purchase of prize bonds can be balanced in order to ensure the need for appropriate anti-money laundering requirements while also allowing for convenience for ordinary customers who wish to purchase prize bonds as gifts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32024/13]

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Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

268. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance whether the requirement to have anti-money laundering identification requirements applied to the purchase of prize bonds over €25 in value is restrictive and will have a strong impact on the sale of prize bonds by customers who wish to give them as gifts as if the limit was set at €100 before AML requirements were applied, it would be more appropriate and convenient for customers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32049/13]

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Finian McGrath

Question:

269. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his views on correspondence from the Irish Postmasters' Union (details supplied) regarding proposed changes in respect of prize bonds. [32075/13]

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Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

270. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if he intends to change the monetary limit at which anti-money laundering requirements are applied to the purchase of prize bonds from €25 to €100 and over to redress the imbalance in inconvenience experienced by customers wishing to purchase prize bonds as gifts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32143/13]

View answer

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

272. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider increasing the purchase limit of prize bonds from €25 to €100 before anti-money laundering requirements are applied in order to maintain a balance between the need for appropriate AML requirements and convenience for ordinary customers who wish to purchase prize bonds as gifts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32149/13]

View answer

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

273. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Finance if he will address the concerns raised in correspondence (details supplied) regarding prize bonds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32155/13]

View answer

Brendan Griffin

Question:

275. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance if he will increase the threshold for anti-money laundering identification requirement for the purchase of prize bonds to €100 from €25 for practicality purposes for ordinary prize bond purchasers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32173/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 98, 169, 174, 190, 210, 239, 240, 243, 253 to 255, inclusive, 268 to 270, inclusive, 272, 273 and 275 together.

European legislation has been adopted to protect the financial system and certain professions and activities from being misused for money laundering and financing of terrorism purposes. The anti-money-laundering obligations applicable in Ireland derive from the Third EU Money-Laundering Directive. The Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 was enacted in July 2010 to transpose the Third Money Laundering Directive (2005/60/EC) and its Implementing Directive (2006/70/EC) into Irish Law.

Part 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 2010 sets out the obligations of “designated persons” in relation to customer identification. One such obligation set out in the Act is the obligation to conduct customer due diligence, prior to the establishment of a business relationship. Customer due diligence refers to the identification of customers and that of any beneficial owners of financial products associated with the customer.

An Post and the Prize Bond Company are deemed to be a “designated person” under the Criminal Justice Act 2010 as they fall within the definition of a "financial institution". In light of this, An Post and the Prize Bond Company are required to comply with the relevant provisions of the Act in relation to the sale of Prize Bonds to customers. This means, in practical terms, that customer due diligence must be conducted on all purchases of prize bonds, irrespective of value.

The extent to which any particular person or product may be exempted from the customer due diligence requirements of the Act is determined by reference to the Act having regard to the underlying Directives.

The Central Bank of Ireland has no discretion to exempt certain firms from the requirement to comply with the Act.

In light of the above, I am exploring with the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) and my colleague the Minister for Justice whether or not exemptions available under the Directives may be applied to small value purchases of prize bonds facilitated on behalf of the State by An Post and the Prize Bond Company.

Promissory Note Issues

Questions (99)

Gerry Adams

Question:

99. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance if he has considered freezing the issuing internationally of the converted promissory notes, currently held at the Central Bank, pending an investigation into the handing of these notes to Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide, with a view to destroying the bonds if it is found that the promissory notes were issued on the basis of fraudulent and misleading information. [31858/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy will be aware the Promissory Notes were replace with a portfolio of Irish Government Bonds in February 2013. The Promissory Notes were returned to the Department of Finance and cancelled at that time. As part of the transaction the Central Bank committed that the bonds would be sold in accordance with an agreed schedule and only where such a sale is not disruptive to financial stability. As the bonds are now legally owned by the Central Bank it would not be possible for me to freeze those bonds. I am deeply disturbed and outraged by the taped conversations involving Anglo executives in 2008 and dismayed to hear senior banking executives refer to the banking crisis with such arrogance. As the Deputy will be aware, there are a number of on-going criminal and other investigations into events in Anglo Irish Bank which will deal with these matters. The Government is determined to ensure the public is informed about what happened in Irish Banks and has published the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill which, once enacted, will provide the legal framework for a banking inquiry to be held within the current constitutional parameters.

Tax Code

Questions (100, 107, 281, 283)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

100. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which his Department continues to monitor allegations made to the effect that multinational corporations use this jurisdiction as a tax haven with consequent negative impact on the international reputation of this country; the measures taken to date to challenge and rebut all such affirmations with a view to obtaining an unconditional withdrawal of such as were made at a recent COSAC meeting by an international philanthropist; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31887/13]

View answer

Michael McGrath

Question:

107. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the steps he is taking to ensure that the nature of Ireland’s corporation tax regime is not misrepresented internationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31897/13]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

281. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the steps that can be taken at international level to rebut the allegations of the existence of a tax haven in this country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32292/13]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

283. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which allegations of the existence of a tax haven here have been adequately rebutted throughout Europe and globally with particular reference to the need to protect the integrity of this country’s international reputation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32294/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 100, 107, 281 and 283 together.

Officials in my department, alongside their colleagues in the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the IDA, and our embassies and consulates around the world, have been working hard to supply factual information on our corporate tax strategy. This corporate tax strategy is based on the three Rs of Rate, Regime, and Reputation. We have an outstanding record of attracting companies of real substance to invest and create thousands of jobs in Ireland. These companies are here for a number of reasons including: our talented English-speaking workforce, good education system, and ease of doing business. Therefore tax is just one reason why companies choose to locate in Ireland. Officials are also working to make sure that the nature of our corporation tax regime is not misrepresented or misunderstood.

Erroneous allegations are monitored and a response is issued where appropriate. Of course we cannot respond to every allegation and nor would we wish to. However to give one example of where a response was considered appropriate, the Irish Ambassador to the United States recently wrote to the Co-Chairs of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to correct some misleading and inaccurate references to Ireland made during a recent hearing.

Banks Recapitalisation

Question No. 102 answered with Question No. 69.

Questions (101)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

101. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance when he intends to seek access to the European Stability Mechanism to retroactively recapitalise Ireland’s banking sector; and if he believes there is any potential in achieving recapitalisation through the ESM of anything more than the current value of the banks. [31869/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy is aware on the 20th June 2013 the Eurogroup of Euro-area Finance Ministers agreed a framework under which the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) will operate its direct recapitalisation instrument. It is expected that this facility will come into force towards the end of the first half of 2014. In addition the Eurogroup also agreed to consider retro-active recapitalisation of banks on a case-by-case basis once the instrument enters into force. This provides one potential avenue for Ireland to recoup some of the funds it put into the Banks in the wake of the banking crash. However, there is a long way to go in the negotiations and as each case will be considered on its merits it would not be appropriate for me to prejudge the outcome at this early stage.

Question No. 102 answered with Question No. 69.

Property Taxation Exemptions

Questions (103, 112)

Clare Daly

Question:

103. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance in relation to the local property tax, if a person who has previously paid for tests which showed that his or her home has pyrite, is required to pay for a new building assessment which would cost him or her more than the local property tax exemption that he or she is seeking; and the steps available to him or her in this situation. [31775/13]

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Clare Daly

Question:

112. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance the way a person with pyrite secures an exemption in relation to the local property tax. [31776/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 103 and 112 together.

Section 10A of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (as amended) provides that an exemption from the charge to Local Property Tax (LPT) will apply for a temporary period of at least three consecutive years for residential properties that have been certified under Regulations made by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government as having “significant pyritic damage”.

The Finance (Local Property Tax) (Pyrite Exemption) Regulations 2013 require that residential property owners demonstrate significant pyritic damage in accordance with the recently published standard by the National Standards Authority of Ireland, I.S. 398 – Reactive Pyrite in sub-floor hardcore material – Part 1. This standard provides guidance on the Building Condition Assessment, as well as on the sampling and testing to be carried out, to establish the presence of significant pyritic damage.

To be eligible for an exemption from LPT, a liable person must obtain a certificate from a competent person, such as an engineer, confirming the presence of significant pyritic damage and cannot claim the exemption until the relevant certificate has been issued in respect of the residential property concerned. Once they have the relevant certificate, the liable person should notify the Revenue Commissioners in writing that they wish to claim the exemption. By virtue of the LPT legislation, the liable person can, as it suits their particular circumstances, opt to claim the exemption from that date forward or retrospectively if they received the certificate after they had already met their LPT obligations for a particular liability date.

Special arrangements will apply in respect of the years 2013 and 2014. Liable persons who do not have the relevant certificate on the first liability date of 1 May 2013 (liability date for 2013), or by 1 November 2013 (liability date for 2014), will be required to pay LPT for those periods. Where a certificate is issued after either of these dates but on or before 31 December 2013, a liable person may elect for retrospective exemption for one or other of the years 2013 and 2014. This election must be made on or before 31 January 2014. Where a liable person elects for retrospective exemption for the years 2013 or 2014, any LPT that has already been paid will be refunded by Revenue. Any refund is subject to Revenue’s usual four year time limit on the refund of tax.

Depending on when in a three year valuation cycle the certificate is issued, the exemption may last for up to five years. It is the date of the certificate and not the date of the claim for the exemption that determines when the exemption first starts from. Where a property qualifies for the exemption, it continues to apply even where the property is subsequently remediated before the end of the exemption period.

For those persons who have previously paid for tests to be carried out, I am advised that, conscious of the need to reduce costs to liable persons who own properties with significant pyritic damage, the Regulations provide for the use, where feasible, of the results from testing of the sub-floor hardcore undertaken prior to the publication of I.S. 398-1:2013, to classify the hardcore material, if the testing that has already been carried out is in accordance with, or equivalent to, the test methods provided in this standard, and this has been validated as such by a competent person. However, a Building Condition Assessment, in accordance with I.S. 398-1:2013, will be required to be carried out by a competent person irrespective of when the testing is, or was, carried out. Affected homeowners may be eligible to recoup the cost of the Building Condition Assessment, subject to a maximum limit of €500 (including VAT), under the pyrite remediation scheme currently being developed by the Pyrite Resolution Board.

The rules governing when, and for how long, the exemption applies are complicated and are best explained by the use of examples. I am advised that further detailed information and examples on how the exemption for residential properties with significant pyrite damage operates are provided by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, on www.environ.ie, or can be accessed from the LPT pages of the Revenue website, www.revenue.ie.

Tax Avoidance Issues

Questions (104)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

104. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that non-governmental organisations and some Governments have called for the UN tax committee to be transformed into an intergovernmental body; if he supports the establishment of an intergovernmental body on tax matters under the auspices of the United Nations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31947/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The issues of tax fraud and evasion and aggressive tax planning need to be addressed as quickly as possible. Everybody recognises that an international response is required and that individual countries cannot resolve these issues by way of unilateral action. The OECD has been looking at this issue for some time and will present its proposals on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) to the G20 meeting of Finance Ministers on 18 and 19 July - the proposals are expected to be published shortly before the G20 meeting. Ireland has been deeply involved in this OECD work. The Deputy is correct in saying that the OECD does not include all countries, however, as part of the BEPS project, the OECD has sought the views of a large number of non-OECD countries. A recent meeting at the OECD headquarters in Paris was attended by a significant number of non-OECD countries, including China, Brazil, India, South Africa and Russia, as well as a representative of the UN. I warmly welcome the OECD's initiative in this regard as it is vital to achieve a global response to this problem. Furthermore, the OECD launched a three year tax and development programme in 2011 to enhance the enabling environment for developing countries to build appropriate and adequate tax regimes. Ireland contributed €300,000 to this development programme.

The OECD has developed the necessary expertise to tackle these difficult issues and it is now demonstrating this expertise by producing results. While a proposal to establish an intergovernmental body on tax matters under the auspices of the United Nations might have some merit in the future, I do not believe that it would be the right approach at this particular point in time. We need solutions quickly and the OECD is the appropriate organisation to develop these solutions.