Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Questions (223)

Eugene Murphy

Question:

223. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to deal with the current and ongoing information technology problems in the payments section of his Department which is leading to ongoing delays in relation to processing files which have already been inspected and awaiting payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47884/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

EU regulations governing the administration of the Basic Payment Scheme, the Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme and other area-based schemes require that full and comprehensive administrative checks, including Ground or Remote Sensing (Satellite) inspections where applicable, are fully completed to ensure eligibility with the various schemes requirements before any payments issue. There are certain minimum numbers of inspections that must take place annually under the various schemes.

It is important to note that, in many cases, the existence of an inspection will not necessarily be delaying payment. In relation to the ANC Scheme, this scheme is subject to a range of eligibility and compliance criteria such as the requirement to meet a minimum stocking density in addition to maintaining minimum livestock units calculated over the twelve months of the scheme year. At this stage, a number of farmers are not eligible to receive payment as they have not met scheme-specific criteria. When an applicant meets these criteria, they will become eligible for payment, which will be processed promptly. Factors that may impact on payment issuing under BPS include, for example, applications to transfer entitlements, request for change in ownership etc., and officials in my Department are actively processing such cases.

Some 8,000 applicants have been selected for a Land Eligibility inspection in respect of the various 2019 area-based schemes. As of 19th November, inspections results have been received for over 90% of these inspections, of which 92% have been advanced to payment stage processing. The balance of these cases fall into a number of categories, namely, applicants have been notified of the inspection outcome where an area over-declaration has been identified and a response is awaited; applicants have chosen to submit comments on notified inspection outcomes - these are currently being examined and are subject to final processing. The balance of the outstanding inspection results are currently being finalised and will then be advanced through the final stages of processing promptly.

My Department continues to finalise the outcome of both Ground and Remote Sensing inspections on a daily basis to ensure that BPS and ANC Schemes payments due are issued as quickly as possible.