EU-IMF Programme of Support Issues

Questions (132)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

132. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if he intends to contact Chancellor Merkel following her recent comments regarding Ireland's economic performance. [40917/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I interact on a continuous basis with all of my EU counterparts, in particular at the monthly Ecofin meetings, including with the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble. The most recent comments by Chancellor Merkel acknowledge the successful reforms taken by Ireland under the EU/IMF economic adjustment programme. These reforms have been taken to benefit the Irish economy and have put Ireland on a more sustainable path to growth. These necessary reforms have increased investor confidence and improved funding conditions for both the Irish sovereign and the banks.

The important agreements that Ireland has reached with European partners over the programme period shows how positively Ireland is viewed. These agreements include the lowering of the interest rate on our EU programme funding, an extension of maturities on lending from our European partners and the restructuring of the promissory note. These all help to underpin our longer term debt sustainability, lower financing costs to the State and support economic growth.

As Ireland's EU-IMF Programme of Financial Support comes to an end this year the Government’s focus is now firmly fixed on achieving a successful and durable exit from our programme, and a full and sustainable return to the financial markets, and we are doing all we can to this end.

European Financial Stability Facility

Questions (133)

Gerry Adams

Question:

133. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance if he has raised the issue of the retrospective recapitalisation of Irish banks in any of the discussions he has had with German Chancellor Angela Merkel since the German election. [40735/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I have not had any discussions with Chancellor Merkel since her recent re-election. However, as the Deputy will be aware, the Euro-Area Heads of State or Government agreed on 29th June 2012 to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns, and that when a Single Supervisory Mechanism is in place involving the ECB, the ESM could recapitalize banks directly. The Euro-Area Heads of State or Government confirmed this position and mandated EU Finance Ministers to prepare an operational framework by mid-2013.

The Eurogroup meeting of Euro-Area Finance Ministers on 20th June 2013 agreed on the main features of the European Stability Mechanism’s Direct Bank Recapitalisation instrument (DBR). The instrument will come into effect when the Single Supervisory Mechanism is in place and operational. Given this requirement, the earliest this can happen will be mid-to-late 2014.

We have succeeded in having specific provision for retrospective recapitalisation included in the main features which states that "The potential retroactive application of the instrument should be decided on a case-by-case basis and by mutual agreement." There is still a lot of negotiation to be done on this aspect of the facility but the agreement now in place keeps the possibility to apply to the ESM for a retrospective direct recapitalisation of the Irish banks open for us, should we wish to avail of it. This overall framework builds upon the agreement secured on the 29th of June 2012, and is an important step in the Eurozone's efforts in this regard.

International Tax Issues

Questions (134)

Micheál Martin

Question:

134. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance his views on the concerns the European Commission has regarding the double Irish taxation system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39136/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Commission has not sought information on the so-called 'Double Irish' structure as part of its current review of corporate tax ruling procedures in various EU Member States. The Commission review is looking at practice in relation to the provision of advance tax rulings or opinions. The 'Double Irish' two-tier structure is an international tax-planning arrangement which has been designed and developed by tax and legal advisers. It relies on arbitrage between the different tax rules used in different countries to achieve a low level of taxation on foreign profits of companies not resident here and is not part of the Irish tax offering.

Differences arise in the legal and tax systems between countries. International tax planning takes account of these differences in national systems and rules. The only way to effectively deal with such arrangements is for countries to work together to examine these structures and to consider how international rules can be amended to ensure fair levels of taxation. Ireland remains fully committed to this approach to ensure coherence in international taxation. In this regard, Ireland is participating in projects at EU and OECD level which aim to address international tax issues.

Corporation Tax

Questions (135)

Micheál Martin

Question:

135. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he is concerned about Ireland's corporation tax rate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39137/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Taoiseach, myself and other members of the Government have repeatedly expressed the Government’s commitment to the retention of the 12.5% rate and I do not foresee any concerns in this regard.

Budget 2014

Questions (136)

Micheál Martin

Question:

136. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he has had meetings with officials from the Department of An Taoiseach on the forthcoming budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39048/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Budget 2014 is the culmination of a year long budgetary process. The development of the Budget consists of many important elements, including the publication of the Stability Programme Update and subsequent debate. Regarding the Budget, meetings take place throughout the year between my officials and officials of other organizations, such as the NTMA, the Revenue Commissioners and other Government Departments, most notably the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Suffice to say, there would be a high quantity of meetings held in relation to the Budget, and officials from the Department of An Taoiseach would be in attendance at some of these.

Fuel Smuggling

Questions (137)

Niall Collins

Question:

137. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the steps that have been taken to tackle illicit fuel smuggling in the Border region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39600/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they are very conscious of the threat that illicit fuel smuggling poses to the Exchequer and to legitimate business and they have adopted a comprehensive strategy to tackle the problem. This strategy includes the following elements:

- The licensing regime for auto fuel traders was strengthened with effect from September 2011 to limit the ability of the fuel criminals to get laundered fuel onto the market;

- A new licensing regime was introduced for marked fuel traders in October 2012, which is designed to limit the ability of criminals to source marked fuel for laundering;

- Following a significant investment in the required IT systems, new supply chain controls were introduced from January 2013. These controls require all licensed fuel traders, whether dealing in road fuel or marked fuel, to make monthly electronic returns to Revenue of their fuel transactions. Revenue is using this data to identify suspicious or anomalous transactions and patterns of distribution that will support robust follow-up enforcement action where necessary;

- An intensified targeting, in co-operation with other law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border, of enforcement action against suspected fuel laundering operations; and

- Following discussions with HM Revenue & Customs in the UK on regulatory measures to tackle the problem, the two administrations signed a Memorandum of Understanding in May 2012 on a joint approach to finding a more effective marker for use in both jurisdictions. Submissions on potential new markers are currently being evaluated.

Revenue's enforcement strategy in the fuel sector has already yielded significant results. To date in 2013, Revenue has seized 168,050 litres of mineral oil in operations carried out in the border area. They have also uncovered six Oil Laundries, seized 114,000 litres of laundered fuel, four tankers, six lorries and fifteen other vehicles. One person was arrested during the course of these operations, which play a crucial role in cutting off the supply of laundered and illicit fuel.

Revenue will maintain its approach of seizing illicit fuel and closing down retail outlets that do not have the required licence or fail to comply with licence requirements.

School Transport Provision

Questions (138, 140, 141)

Clare Daly

Question:

138. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of money refunded to his Department following the investigations into corruption and-or irregularities in the Limerick office of Bus Éireann's school transport section. [41283/13]

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Clare Daly

Question:

140. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills in relation to the Limerick office, where the refunds following the investigations into corruption and irregularities appear in the school transport accounts and in the acccounts of his Department. [41285/13]

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Clare Daly

Question:

141. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will be informing the Garda of the irregularities in the Limerick office of Bus Éireann's school transport section. [41286/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 138, 140 and 141 together.

The matters raised by the Deputy are proper to Bus Eireann. I am informed by Bus Éireann that in 2010, following an investigation instigated by the Company in relation to school transport matters in Limerick, disciplinary action was taken against an employee in line with Bus Eireann internal procedures. This was an internal disciplinary investigation conducted and concluded by Bus Éireann. Bus Éireann confirmed that the incidents that were investigated in 2010 did not require any monies to be repaid to my Department.

School Transport Provision

Questions Nos. 140 and 141 answered with Question No. 138.

Questions (139)

Clare Daly

Question:

139. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of money that was charged under the 13% agreement with Bus Éireann in relation to the administration fees paid to it that were refunded. [41284/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Bus Éireann, which operates school transport services on behalf of my Department, maintains a separate account for the School Transport Scheme. This account is audited each year by independent auditors and accounts in respect of the last number of years are available on my Department's website. The amount rebated for the financial years 2008 to 2012 is €.5m, €.351m, €.294m, €1.771m and €3.607m respectively.

Questions Nos. 140 and 141 answered with Question No. 138.