Consular Services

Questions (122)

Clare Daly

Question:

122. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to open a new Consulate General office in Darwin, Australia. [26714/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland’s interests in Australia are currently represented by our Embassy in Canberra and our Consulate General in Sydney. These Missions are at the forefront of efforts to promote our political and economic interests, our values, and in providing important services to the Irish community in Australia. Ireland is also represented in Perth by an Honorary Consul. Honorary Consuls are an important element of the State’s global engagement and provide consular services and assistance, as well as a range of other supports to citizens.

With the launch last year of ‘Global Ireland 2025’, we are committed to significantly expanding our diplomatic, commercial and cultural networks, while also continuously reviewing the scale of Ireland’s overseas network. In considering the expansion of our diplomatic representations overseas, a range of factors are taken into account, including our national political, economic, and trade priorities, as well as availability of resources.

There are currently no plans to open a Consulate General in Darwin.

Foreign Policy

Questions (123)

Micheál Martin

Question:

123. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the matters that were discussed under specific foreign policy issues at the recent EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting; if Iran and Israel and Palestine were included in the discussions. [26560/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Minister of State for European Affairs, Helen McEntee TD, attended the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 17 June. The agenda covered the EU Global Strategy, CFSP Effectiveness and Sudan.

Ministers discussed the EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy, three years following its launch, and in light of High Representative Mogherini’s Assessment Report on the progress made. Ireland looks forward to advancing all five strands of the Strategy.

The FAC also examined the effectiveness of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy. Ministers discussed ways in which the EU can ensure greater unity, coherence and consistency in its external action, to allow us to respond to future foreign and security challenges in a more flexible and strategic way.

On Sudan, the Council condemned the use of violence against civilians and reiterated support to the African Union. The priority for Sudan is to find a swift consensus that allows the transfer of power to a civilian-led authority.

Foreign Ministers also discussed regional issues with the Jordanian Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, including the Middle East Peace Process, the Gulf, Iran and Syria. Ireland and our EU partners recognise and greatly appreciate the stabilising role that Jordan plays in the Middle East region.

Employment Rights

Questions (124, 125, 134)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

124. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to or if he has engaged with either the Revenue Commissioners or companies (details supplied) in respect of cases of bogus self-employment contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26203/19]

View answer

Brendan Griffin

Question:

125. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding bogus self-employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26301/19]

View answer

Catherine Murphy

Question:

134. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the issue of bogus self-employment contracts in respect of companies (details supplied); if he has engaged with the Revenue Commissioners on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26195/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 124, 125 and 134 together.

Section 851A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 requires Revenue to uphold taxpayer confidentiality and prohibits the release of any information that could lead to the identification of taxpayers. The Deputies will also be aware that I am precluded from being involved in individual tax cases.

Revenue has however, assured me that it carries out a full range of interventions to combat all types of tax evasion and non-compliance. This includes a clear focus on the practice of disguised employment and challenging the inappropriate classification of workers as self-employed contractors. Revenue has also advised me that it carries out significant numbers of outdoor ‘site’ visits each year, many of which are conducted on a multi-agency basis with other Departments or Agencies, including the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to identify and rectify bogus self-employment situations and ensure the proper operation of the PAYE system.

I am also advised that there are dedicated processes and procedures in place to deal with situations where taxpayers are dissatisfied with Revenue determinations or actions. These include Revenue’s own complaints procedures, the details of which are available on its website at /www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/documents/customer-service/cs4.pdf and by way of appeal to the independent Tax Appeals Commission (TAC).

While Revenue has not provided me with any details, it has confirmed that it is aware of the issues to which the Deputies are referring.

Illicit Trade in Fuel and Tobacco Products

Questions (126)

Micheál Martin

Question:

126. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance his views on high-sulphur coal being smuggled across the Border region; if he has spoken to other Ministers regarding same; if actions are being taken to prevent this smuggling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26490/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am assuming that the Deputy, when referring to solid fuel smuggling, is enquiring about the movement of solid fuel into the State from Northern Ireland in the context of Solid Fuel Carbon Tax (SFCT). SFCT is an excise duty that applies to coal and peat when first supplied in the State for use as a fuel. Neither the movement of solid fuel into the State nor the physical presence of solid fuel in the State generate a liability to SFCT. Therefore, there is no smuggling offence, in terms of evasion of SFCT, attaching to coal coming into the State from Northern Ireland.

European Union Single Market constraints preclude the use of any cross-border controls in relation to the movement of solid fuel into the State from other Member States. Therefore, Revenue has no authority to stop vehicles and physically inspect loads of solid fuel entering the State from Northern Ireland. Similarly, the transportation or possession of solid fuel that originated in Northern Ireland are not, in themselves, Revenue offences and Revenue's officers have no authority to challenge such transportation or possession.

Currently in Northern Ireland, there is no carbon tax on coal and solid fuel environmental standards are lower than in the State. These factors combined with currency fluctuations and Northern Ireland’s lower VAT rate on solid fuel can give rise to significant price differentials between the two jurisdictions.

As I, and my predecessor, have pointed out before, because of the price differential with Northern Ireland, the collection by Revenue of SFCT is heavily reliant on the regulatory regime covering the marketing, sale, distribution and burning of solid fuels in the State. The regime is operated by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and is enforced by local authorities who have powers to inspect premises and vehicles being used for the sale and distribution of solid fuel, collect samples of coal to check for adherence to environmental standards and to prosecute traders involved in selling coal that does not meet these standards. The Regulations also provide for the establishment of a register of coal suppliers by the Environmental Protection Agency.

I am advised that Revenue is in contact at present with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to discuss the effectiveness of the regulatory regime for solid fuel and to explore how Revenue could support the Department to improve matters in light of continuing concerns that solid fuel sourced from Northern Ireland is getting onto the market here. I understand that contacts are ongoing with a view to undertaking a number of joint operations and to explore the scope for follow up action by Revenue in relation to persons found to be in breach of environmental regulations.

Credit Unions

Questions (127, 133, 150)

Eugene Murphy

Question:

127. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if the policy that is set to increase the industry funding levy on credit unions from approximately €1.5 million per annum to approximately €7.8 million by the end of 2022 will be reversed to take into account the societal impact of credit unions when calculating the regulation activity levy in view of the fact that credit unions are not for profit, community based and volunteer led; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26735/19]

View answer

Thomas Pringle

Question:

133. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Finance his plans to increase the industry funding levy on the credit union sector; the amount by which the levy will be increased; when changes to the levy will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26098/19]

View answer

Pearse Doherty

Question:

150. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he has considered an exemption for the credit union movement from the move towards 100% payment of regulatory costs by the industry in view of the social and volunteer ethos of the movement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26773/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 127, 133 and 150 together.

As the Deputies are aware, credit unions are regulated and supervised by the Registrar of Credit Unions at the Central Bank who is the independent regulator for credit unions. Within his independent regulatory discretion, the Registrar acts to support the prudential soundness of individual credit unions, to maintain sector stability, and to protect the savings of credit union members.

Since 2004 the amount of the Industry Funding Levy payable by each credit union has been capped at a rate of 0.01% of total assets.

Consultation Paper 95 ‘Joint Public Consultation Paper - Department of Finance and the Central Bank of Ireland - Funding the Cost of Financial Regulation’ (CP95) was published in 2015 and set out proposals to move from partial industry funding of financial regulation towards full industry funding, noting the proposal set out in an earlier consultation conducted by the Central Bank (CP61 ‘Consultation on Impact Based Levies and Other Levy Related Matters’) to move credit unions to fund 50% of the cost of regulating the credit union sector.

The Central Bank indicated, in its Funding Strategy and 2018 Guide to the Industry Funding Levy, that it intended to seek my approval to increase the proportion of financial regulation costs to be recovered from credit unions on a phased basis setting out an initial target of 50% to be reached by 2021.

In response to the Central Bank's request I recommended that credit union contributions should not increase beyond the 50% target until:

a. The levy trajectory has reached the planned 50% rate, at which time the impact on the viability of the sector will be better understood; and

b. A public consultation regarding increasing the levy rate for credit unions beyond 50% is undertaken, which would include a regulatory impact assessment of such a change on the sector.

In contrast to this, recovery rates in 2018 for all other industry categories ranged from 65% to 100% and the Central Bank intends to increase all to 100% funding over the next number of years.

The Deputy might also wish to note that the Department of Finance, in collaboration with the Central Bank, has prepared a public consultation paper on potential changes to the Credit Institutions Resolution Fund Levy, which is expected to reduce materially from 2020. This consultation, which has now been published on the Department of Finance website, is open to all persons and I would strongly encourage all stakeholders to submit feedback.

It is also important to note that as Minister for Finance I have reduced the Stabilisation Scheme Levy materially and that since 2017 no further levies have been charged by the Credit Union Restructuring Board (ReBo).

Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme

Questions (128)

Robert Troy

Question:

128. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance his plans to review the qualification criteria for the primary medical certificate; and his views on whether the current criteria are too restrictive and that qualification needs to be relaxed in view of the fact that there is no motorised transport grant for persons. [26806/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme provides relief from VAT and VRT (up to a certain limit) on the purchase of an adapted car for transport of a person with specific severe and permanent physical disabilities, payment of a Fuel Grant, and an exemption from Motor Tax.

To qualify for the Scheme an applicant must be in possession of a Primary Medical Certificate. To qualify for a Primary Medical Certificate, an applicant must satisfy one of the following conditions:

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

- be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

- be without both hands or without both arms;

- be without one or both legs;

- be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

- have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

The Scheme represents a significant tax expenditure. Between the Vehicle Registration Tax and VAT foregone, and the fuel grant, the scheme cost €65m in each of 2016 and 2017, rising to €70m in 2018. This figure does not include the revenue foregone in respect of the relief from Motor Tax provided to members of the Scheme.

I understand and fully sympathise with any person who suffers from a serious physical disability and can’t access the scheme under the current criteria. However, given the scope and scale of the scheme, any possible changes to it can only be made after careful consideration, taking into account the existing and prospective cost of the scheme as well as the availability of other schemes which seek to help with the mobility of disabled persons, and the interaction between each of these schemes.

Accordingly, I have no plans to amend the qualifying medical criteria for the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers Scheme at this time.

Finally, I would like to point out that legislation is being brought forward by the Minister for Health to replace the closed Motorised Transport Grant.

European Council Meetings

Questions (129)

Micheál Martin

Question:

129. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if there was a discussion regarding the recent quantitative easing expansion and the impact it will have on the EU economy at the recent ECOFIN meeting. [26563/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

At EU level, through both the ECOFIN and Eurogroup meetings, Ministers work alongside the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) to take stock of the latest economic situation, including the risks and opportunities for European economies in the short to medium-term. I regularly attend these meetings to discuss these developments with my European counterparts and the European Institutions.

At the recent ECOFIN meeting on June 14, there was a general update on the EU economic situation given by the Commission and the ECB but no specific discussion on the expansion of the ECB’s quantitative easing (QE programme).

Momentum in the global economy slowed sharply towards the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019, amidst a downturn in global manufacturing and trade. Euro Area headline inflation rate in May was 1.2 per cent, down from 1.7 per cent in April 2019. On this basis, average annual Euro Area inflation in the first five months of 2019 is 1.4 per cent. The ECB projects that inflation will remain below target – an inflation rate of below, but close to, 2 per cent – across the forecast horizon, reaching 1.6 per cent in 2021.

The current performance of the global economy is set against a background of increased uncertainty. Risks to economic outlook are significant and include the timing and nature of Brexit, a slowdown in the US and Chinese economies, further intensification of trade tensions, and increasing global indebtedness.

I am aware of the ECB President Mario Draghi’s recent speech (18 June) on twenty years of the ECB’s monetary policy, where he referred to the current economic outlook and downside risks facing the European economy. President Draghi noted that in the absence of a return of inflation to the ECB’s target additional stimulus will be required. Further, that in the coming weeks, the ECB Governing Council will consider how the instruments at their disposal can be adapted commensurate to the severity of the risk to price stability.

Bond Markets

Question No. 133 answered with Question No. 127.

Question No. 134 answered with Question No. 124.

Questions (130, 131, 132)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

130. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if all funds raised through the sale of green bonds will be spent directly on NDP-listed green spending totalling €23 billion in view of the fact that proceeds from green bond sales will be held in the central fund. [26094/19]

View answer

Pearse Doherty

Question:

131. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the projected timeline for the sale of green bonds; and the projected target for sales in order to finance green capital spending. [26095/19]

View answer

Pearse Doherty

Question:

132. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the amount raised through the sale of green bonds to date; and the value and maturity date of each in tabular form. [26096/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 130 to 132, inclusive, together.

Following the €3 billion syndicated transaction by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) last October, there is one Irish Sovereign Green Bond (ISGB) outstanding. This bond, which was the first bond issued under the ISGB Framework published in September 2018, matures on 18 March 2031.

As regards the use of ISGB proceeds, the Framework provides that the intention is that an amount equal to the net proceeds of any ISGB will be allocated to finance new projects or to refinance existing projects, which qualify as Eligible Green Projects. As set out in the Framework, an annual Allocation Report will be made available which will include, amongst other things, the total amount allocated to Eligible Green Projects.

I am advised by the NTMA that the first ISGB Allocation Report will shortly be published. The Report was prepared by the ISGB Working Group, chaired by the Department of Finance, which includes representatives from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the NTMA.

The Report will show that just under €2 billion – representing 65% – of the funds raised in the syndicated transaction last October was allocated to Eligible Green Projects outstanding as at end-2018. This leaves an amount of just over €1 billion yet to be allocated.

The NTMA expects to raise additional funds from the issue of ISGBs. In the first instance, this would be done by issuing more of the existing 2031 bond with timing dependent on market demand and investor feedback.

The National Development Plan 2018-2027 outlines an extensive set of projects and programmes, many of which meet the Eligible Green Project criteria set out in the Framework and therefore eligible for allocation. These include projects aimed at the following national strategic outcomes:

- Sustainable mobility

- Transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient society

- Sustainable management of water and other environmental resources

Question No. 133 answered with Question No. 127.
Question No. 134 answered with Question No. 124.

Tax Residency

Questions (135)

Michael McGrath

Question:

135. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the income tax treatment of Irish citizens whose principal work of three-to-four days per week is in another EU country and who spend the remainder of their time here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26259/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

My understanding is that this question relates to an Irish citizen whose principal work of 3 to 4 days per week is performed in another EU country and who spends the remainder of his or her time in the State. It has not been confirmed whether the principal work concerned refers to an Irish or foreign employment and whether the time spent in the State is for work or personal reasons. Moreover, information concerning the individual’s Irish tax residence and domicile position is not provided. In such circumstances, it is only possible to give an overview of the taxation provisions as they apply generally.

I am advised by Revenue that an individual’s Irish income tax position will depend on the source of the income and his or her tax residence position.

A statutory residency test applies, whereby an individual is regarded as resident in the State for tax purposes for a tax year if he or she is present in the State for -

1. 183 days in that tax year, or

2. 280 days between that tax year and the previous tax year with a minimum of 30 days in any year.

In certain circumstances, an individual may also elect to be resident in the State for a tax year. Further guidance material regarding tax residency rules and the concept of domicile can be found on Revenue’s website, available here.

Where an individual is considered tax resident and domiciled in the State for a tax year, he or she will be taxable on his or her worldwide income for that year. This is subject to any relief under the terms of a relevant Double Taxation Agreement (DTA).

Where an individual is not tax resident, but is ordinarily resident and domiciled in the State, he or she will be taxable on his or her worldwide income with the exception of foreign employment income earned wholly abroad together with any other foreign source income, provided it is less than €3,810. This is also subject to any relief due under the terms of a relevant DTA.

Where an individual is neither tax resident nor ordinarily resident in the State, he or she will be liable to Irish income tax on his or her Irish source income only. This position applies regardless of where the individual is domiciled.

Where an individual is tax resident, but not domiciled, in the State, he or she will be liable to Irish income tax on both his or her Irish source income and his or her foreign income to the extent it is remitted.

Where an individual is not tax resident in the State but is ordinarily resident in, and not domiciled in, the State, he or she will be liable to Irish tax on his or her Irish source income and his or her foreign income to the extent it is remitted. However, income from an employment all duties of which are performed outside the State is not liable to Irish income tax, even if remitted.

Central Bank of Ireland Data

Questions (136)

Michael McGrath

Question:

136. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of judgments sought in each year since 2011 by unregulated loan owners, retail credit firms and banks with regard to farm-related debt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26310/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

While the Central Bank of Ireland collects and publishes a wide range of statistical data, I have been advised by them that it does not collect data relating to the number of judgements sought by unregulated loan owners, retail credit firms and banks with regard to farm related debt.

Central Bank of Ireland Data

Questions (137)

Michael McGrath

Question:

137. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if the Central Bank gathers data on farm-related debt; the number and value of farm-related debts in the economy; the number and value in distress; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26311/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Statistics division of the Central Bank provides data on the outstanding stock of Credit Advanced to Irish Resident Private-Sector Enterprises by Irish banks relating to the Primary Industries sector, of which the main constituent is lending for Agriculture.

This information can be found in Table A.14.1 -Credit Advanced to Irish Resident Small and Medium Sized Enterprises on the Central Bank's website (link as follows).

The annual outstanding stock since 2016 is summarised below in Euro millions.

Lending for the purpose of:

2016

2017

2018

Primary Industries

3,898

3,909

3,990

of which: Agriculture

3,221

3,428

3,465

https://www.centralbank.ie/statistics/data-and-analysis/credit-and-banking-statistics/sme-large-enterprise-credit-and-deposits

Carbon Tax Yield

Questions (138)

Michael McGrath

Question:

138. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the value of tax received in 2018 from carbon-related tax, that is, carbon tax, excise on petrol and diesel and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26313/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the aggregate value of receipts collected from Carbon Tax, plus the Excise and VAT on petrol, auto diesel and other products that carry a carbon charge, is estimated at €3.5 billion for 2018.

A breakdown of these receipts is provided in the following table.

€ Millions

Light Oils

598

Heavy Oils

1,565

LPG

0.20

Carbon Tax

431

VAT

858

Total

3,452

Vehicle Registration

Questions (139)

John Brassil

Question:

139. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Finance the number of vehicles imported in 2016 and 2017; the cost to the Exchequer in each of the years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26322/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

It is assumed that the Deputy is referring to the number of used vehicle imports.

I am advised by Revenue that the total number of used vehicles imported into the State in 2016 and 2017 is provided in the following table. The table also includes the amounts of Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) collected by Revenue in respect of those vehicles for the years in question (all imported vehicles are liable to VRT).

Year

Number of Imported Vehicles

VRT Collected (€ Millions)

2016

93,073

189.0

2017

119,834

260.5

Freedom of Information Data

Questions (140)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

140. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Finance the number of freedom of information requests granted, part granted, refused, transferred to an appropriate body, withdrawn or handled outside freedom of information in 2018, in tabular form. [26392/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

In response to the Deputy's question, the following table outlines the Freedom of Information requests processed by my Department in 2018:

Freedom of Information

Requests processed by Dept.

Total Processed

389

Granted

44

Part Granted

206

Refused

80

Transferred

12

Withdrawn

33

Handled outside of FOI

14

VAT Rate Application

Questions (141)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

141. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the practice of value added tax being added to carbon tax in the process of charging persons for their energy use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26434/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that VAT is charged on the full consideration which the supplier is entitled to receive in return for goods or services supplied. What constitutes consideration for a supply of goods or services is defined in EU VAT law and consists of everything that the supplier is entitled to receive including taxes, duties, levies and charges, excluding the VAT itself. Therefore, VAT is chargeable on the carbon tax element of energy supplies.

State Claims Agency Data

Questions (142)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

142. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Finance the number of claims pending against the State Claims Agency relating to historical child sexual abuse; the number of claims that have been paid to date; the total paid out to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26515/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The State Claims Agency (SCA) is part of the National Treasury Management Agency, which is a body under the aegis of the Minister for Finance. As such, the SCA have supplied the information included in this report, and confirmed that it is correct as of 20th June 2019.

Table 1 shows the number of active claims managed by the SCA in relation to historical child sexual abuse claims as recorded on the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Historical child sexual abuse claims are assumed to be claims with a Date of Incident recorded on NIMS as 2000 or earlier.

Location

Number of Active Claims

Minister for Justice & Equality (Dept. of Justice and Equality, An Garda Síochána, Irish Prison Service)

13

Children's Detention Schools

5

Day Schools

104

HSE

6

Residential Institutions

9

Tusla

34

Total

171

Table 1: Historical child sexual abuse claims

Table 2 details the number of claims paid to date and the total paid to date the number of claims managed by the State Claims Agency in relation to historical child sexual abuse claims as recorded on NIMS.

Number of Claims

Amount Paid

389

€14,918,288.12

Table 2: Amount Paid on historical child sexual abuse claims

Please note that the total amount paid reflects payments on all historical child sexual abuse claims, regardless of the status of the claims i.e. active and finalised claims. Therefore it differs to the query from Parliamentary Question No. 145 in 2018 [21158/18] which reflected payments made on finalised claims only.

Proposed Legislation

Questions (143)

Michael McGrath

Question:

143. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when the Central Bank (amendment) Bill will be published; if the Central Bank consultation will take place after the legislation has been enacted or before the legislation has been published; when consultation will take place; when it will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26573/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

As I announced last week, I received the agreement of Cabinet to begin the process of drafting heads of a Central Bank Amendment Bill. This follows extensive preparatory work by my officials, in consultation with the Central Bank, over the past year. Any new regulatory regime must be practicable and proportionate, and the issues being addressed by this legislation are complex and required to be constitutionally sound in the event of legal challenge. The Attorney General and his office have reviewed the proposals and given thorough and excellent advice to ensure that any legislation brought forward will be robust and sound. The proposed legislation is necessary and timely and will drive positive changes in terms of wider banking culture, greater delegation of responsibilities, and enhanced accountability while simplifying the taking of sanctions against individuals who fail in their financial sector roles.

It is intended that the legislation will give the Central Bank the power to make regulations intended to drive greater accountability in the financial sector, raising the standards of expected behaviour for individuals and firms, in order to achieve better outcomes for consumers and improve the sustainability of the financial system.

My Department is now beginning further engagement with the Attorney General’s Office in order to draft Heads of Bill to be brought to Government, to provide for:

- Introduction of a Senior Executive Accountability Regime (SEAR) which places obligations on firms and senior individuals within them to set out clearly where responsibility and decision-making lies;

- Introduction of Conduct Standards for individuals and firms to provide for statutory powers to set and impose binding and enforceable obligations on all Regulated Financial Service Providers (RFSPs) and individuals working within them with respect to expected standards of conduct;

- An enhanced Fitness & Probity Regime which includes provisions to enhance the Fitness & Probity regime to ensure the effective operation of the regime and the ability of the regime to support the Central Bank’s proposed individual accountability framework and the conduct standards for individuals and firms.

- Breaking the “Participation Link” which addresses the known deficiency in the legislation which requires the Central Bank to first prove a contravention of financial services legislation against a RFSP before it can take an action against an individual;

- Technical amendments to improve existing legislation and clarify certain statutory processes.

I also intend to address the principles set forth in Deputy Pearse Doherty's private Member's legislation, around the provision of false and misleading information to the Central Bank.

The Central Bank's consultation with industry will take place after the legislation had been enacted.

Following engagement with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel it my intention to bring forward draft heads of Bill towards the end of the year.

Motor Insurance Claims

Questions (144)

Michael McGrath

Question:

144. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if the National Claims Information Database, NCID, will be an aggregate database; if not, if users will be able to assess individual claims or claims patterns with regard to individual claimants; the key difference between the NCID and the proposed claim by claim database; when the NCID will be established; when the claims by claims database will be established; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26648/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

At the outset, it is important to clarify that the main recommendation (recommendation 11) of the Cost of Motor Insurance Report was to establish the National Claims Information Database (NCID) on a legislative basis to facilitate a more in-depth analysis of annual trends in motor insurance claims. This was seen as key to developing an understanding of how claims costs are impacting premiums, in particular understanding the relationship between the price paid by a customer for motor insurance and the cost to insurance undertakings.

The NCID therefore will produce an annual statistical analysis of the factors related to the cost of insurance, including the underlying trends in the market such as where claims are settled, the various costs associated with the claims process etc. It is this bigger picture perspective that needs to be obtained, if we are to develop a greater clarity on how the market operates, in order to provide us with the evidence necessary for an appropriate policy response. Arising from this, the majority of information collected will be at an aggregate level only, i.e. not on a claim-by-claim basis. Some claim–by-claim level information will be collected on very large claims, but no personally identifiable information, as defined by GDPR regulations, will be collected.

It was also recommended that the Department of Finance explore the feasibility of an insurance claim-by-claim register in the longer term. This was implemented through the Department of Finance’s Report on the Feasibility of an Insurance Claim-by-Claim Register (https://assets.gov.ie/8837/e7cd3007a92546748af02a4fa51bf188.pdf). This report concluded that based on its public consultation exercise and on its own analysis that a compelling case had not been put forward for the establishment of a claim-by-claim register. It indicated that it was not possible to fully assess in detail the feasibility of such a register as no clear need or purpose has been put forward on which to base a consideration of:

- the specific data that would be required;

- the appropriateness of that data in terms of necessity, effectiveness and proportionality;

- the specific data protection and commercial sensitivity impacts;

- the logistics involved in collection, processing, access and sharing of the data, including the likely need to procure a technology services provider to administer the register; and

- whether the financial cost, which would likely be similar to that of the Central Credit Register, would be worthwhile.

In addition, an important point that the Oireachtas considered during deliberations on the NCID legislation was on the need for the database to be established in the short-to-medium term. The aggregate nature of the data collected has meant that there are fewer legal and technical complexities involved, and that is why it has been possibly to have the NCID established already. To that end, the NCID came into operation earlier this year, with the enactment and commencement of the Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Act 2018. If we were to have gone down a claim-by-claim approach, there would be major data protection implications (GDPR would be a major factor) which would almost certainly take a long time to address and which would add to the complexity and cost of the project without necessarily providing much added value.

To conclude on this, I understand that the Central Bank has commenced collecting the required data under the NCID from insurers and I look forward to its first report later this year.

Brexit Preparations

Questions (145)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

145. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Finance the number of companies that to date have not obtained an economic operators' registration and identification, EORI, number that will need one in order to continue to trade with the United Kingdom following its departure from the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26698/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that they identify businesses that trade with the UK by analysing the VAT Information Exchange System (VIES) data and that they have now analysed VIES data from 2018. This has identified that approximately 92,000 businesses traded with the UK during this period. On further examination of the data, Revenue have identified that 65,400 of these businesses do not currently hold an EORI number.

I am by Revenue that in line with this most recent data they in the period between now and the end of October they will be supporting individual businesses through an intensified and targeted engagement approach, with a focus on businesses that trade with the UK, designed to encourage action by each business to make sure they are ready for Brexit.

I am advised by Revenue that there has been a significant increase in registrations for Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) numbers year on year.

Details of the number of EORI registrations issued since 2017 is as follows:

Year

Number of EORI Registrations

2017

2,595

2018

2,976

2019 (to 19 June)

6,885

These increased registrations reflect Revenue’s ongoing work to encourage businesses to prepare for Brexit and acquire, as a critical first step, an EORI number.

Revenue Commissioners Resources

Questions (146)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

146. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Finance if funding will be provided for the purchase of three extra backscatter vans for the Revenue Commissioners. [26744/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that it currently has three mobile x-ray scanners, a ‘backscatter van’ scanner, and a specialist vehicle that contains both x-ray and radiation detection technology. All the scanners are mobile and can be deployed to both frontier and internal operations.

The ‘backscatter van’ scanner is Revenue’s most recent acquisition, having been delivered in December 2018. The cost of the scanner was part funded by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).

Revenue has also advised me that it continually reviews its overall detection capability having regard to evolving risk, developments in technology and the obsolescence of existing equipment. Following its most recent review, Revenue is satisfied that the number of scanner vehicles currently available is sufficient.

Ministerial Meetings

Questions (147)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

147. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Finance the dates in 2019 he has formally met the CEOs of banks (details supplied) in tabular form. [26745/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Bank

CEO

Date

AIB

Colin Hunt

19/02/2019

PTSB

Jeremy Masding

26/03/2019

BOI

Francesca McDonagh

01/04/2019