I propose to take Questions Nos. 17 and 27 together.
I am advised that Revenue is actively engaging in the Interdepartmental work on Brexit coordinated by the Department of An Taoiseach and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
As the Deputies are aware, in July 2018 the Government made a number of decisions in relation to preparations for a ‘Central Case Scenario’. This is the main scenario based on the UK leaving the EU on 29 March 2019 with a ratified Withdrawal Agreement to include provisions for the backstop arrangements for the island of Ireland; and for a transition period up to 31 December 2020, during which time the UK would uphold the entire EU acquis.
In line with preparations for the ‘Central Case Scenario’, Revenue’s Brexit preparedness and contingency planning encompasses the three key areas of staffing, ICT enhancement, and infrastructure.
In September 2018, the Government approved the phased recruitment of 600 Revenue staff. In response to an open recruitment campaign undertaken by the Public Appointments Service more than 3,000 applications were received. Since September 2018, 43 trade facilitation staff have been appointed by way of internal, interdepartmental and open recruitment. I am advised by Revenue that plans are fully on track for the first phase of 200 additional trade facilitation staff to be trained and in place, working on a 24 hour/7-day week basis, by 29 March 2019. I understand that recruitment and training of the remaining 400 staff is set to progress on a phased basis during the transitional period up to the end of 2020.
In Budget 2017 provision was made for an additional €2 million for ICT funding for Revenue and I am advised that this has been invested in scaling up their Customs ICT framework to deal efficiently with the increase in Customs declarations, post Brexit and that Revenue is confident that the enhanced IT systems will be capable of facilitating smooth and efficient trade flows post Brexit.
I am further advised that Revenue chairs an inter-Departmental Group that was established to consider the adequacy of port and airport infrastructure post Brexit. This Group has identified and agreed the detail of the nature and scale of facilities that would be required at Dublin Port, Rosslare Europort and Dublin Airport. I understand that OPW is now leading on engagement to ensure that the additional infrastructure is operational in a timely manner.