Question Time would not be the same without a question from Deputy Durkan. I propose to take Questions Nos. 43, 67 and 445 together. I am not sure who tabled the last of those questions.
Similar to the situation in other sectors of the public service, the pay of Permanent Defence Force personnel was reduced as one of the measures to assist in stabilising national finances during the financial crisis. Pay is being restored to members of the Defence Forces and other public servants in accordance with public sector pay agreements. A 2% increase on annualised salaries was implemented from 1 October. The restoration of the 5% cut in allowances imposed under the financial emergency measures in the public interest, FEMPI, legislation was restored from 1 October this year. The pay scales of all public servants, including members of the Defence Forces, earning under €70,000 per annum have been restored to the levels in place prior to the introduction of the FEMPI legislation.
In addition to the general round of pay increases awarded to public servants, members of the Permanent Defence Force have benefited from the implementation of increases in Defence Forces allowances as recommended by the Public Service Pay Commission. A high-level implementation plan, entitled Strengthening our Defence Forces – Phase One, is being progressed. The increase to the military service allowance and the restoration of certain other allowances specific to the Defence Forces, as recommended by the Public Service Pay Commission, have been delivered. A service commitment scheme for flying officers has also been restored. A number of projects in the plan to enhance recruitment and retention are being delivered, while other projects relating to Defence Forces pay will feed into negotiations for the next pay agreement.
I recently announced the introduction of a new seagoing service commitment scheme which is aimed at retaining highly trained and experienced personnel and incentivising seagoing duties. A seagoing naval personnel tax credit of €1,270 was applied this year for members of the Naval Service who served 80 days or more at sea on board a naval vessel. This tax credit has been extended for a further year and is being increased to €1,500 for next year.
The Government is committed to addressing pay and conditions in the Defence Forces and this is reflected in the programme for Government. The programme for Government provides for the establishment of a commission on the Defence Forces, as we discussed earlier. Upon completion of the work of the commission, a permanent pay review body will be established. The answer to the Deputy's question is that we recognise the problem and there are many different things happening in parallel to try to address it.