Thursday, 24 October 2013

Questions (82)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

82. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the basis for his decision to increase the pension levy in budget 2014; the expected yield from this measure; and the purpose to which he intends to put these funds. [45529/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I announced in my Budget speech last week that the 0.6% Pension Fund Levy introduced to fund the Jobs Initiative in 2011 will be abolished from the 31st of December 2014. I will however, introduce an additional levy on pension funds at 0.15%. I am doing this to continue to help fund the Jobs Initiative, including the continuation of the reduced 9% VAT rate detailed below and to make provision for potential State liabilities which may emerge from pre-existing or future pension fund difficulties. The additional levy within the existing legal framework will apply to pension fund assets in 2014 and 2015. The additional yield from the changes to the levy in 2014 and 2015 is estimated at €135 million in each year. The revenues arising to the Exchequer from the levy are, in common with Exchequer revenues generally, not hypothecated to any particular item of expenditure or liability but have been used to help fund the various measures introduced by the Jobs Initiative.

One of the very significant and successful measures introduced by the Jobs Initiative – the reduced VAT rate of 9% on tourism and certain other services – was due to end this year. In my Budget speech, I announced the continuation of the reduced 9% VAT rate. I also announced that the Air Travel Tax is being reduced to zero with effect from 1 April 2014. The combined cost of these initiatives is estimated at close to €400 million in a full year.

The Jobs Initiative also included a number of current and capital expenditure measures. While the details of the expenditure on these measures are a matter for my colleagues in Cabinet, I would ask the Deputy to note that the Jobs Initiative originally provided for 5,000 places under Jobbridge, the National Internship scheme and 5,900 places under the Springboard scheme. Numbers who have participated in Jobbridge have now exceeded 20,000 with an evaluation by Indecon Economic Consultants finding that 61.4% of survey respondents were in employment within 5 months of finishing their internships. The Springboard scheme, now in its third iteration, has expanded to over 16,500 places. The expansion of these schemes, reflective of their success, will require further funding from the Exchequer.

The extent of the potential State liabilities from the pre-existing or future pension fund difficulties is a matter currently under examination by my colleague the Minister for Social Protection. As I have already indicated, however, the proceeds from the levy that accrue to the Exchequer are not set aside to meet discrete items of expenditure or liability and expenditure decisions on the use of those and other funds will be made as they arise in the normal way.