If we think back to the NAMA legislation, it went through quite a lot of Dáil debate and discussion. The Minister had some documents out there well in advance. It was highly teased out. I am sure there are still flaws in it. We spotted the flaws in section 172 here as a result of our work ten years on, or perhaps it was known much earlier in the Department, but the Dáil did not seem to pick it up. This was emergency legislation that was rushed through. We can see the consequences now, but my recollection is that the Department was willing to come in and talk about that. Kieran Wallace, I think, was due to come before the committee as well. However, the initiation of court proceedings stopped the meeting from going ahead. One could argue that the reason we do not have the level of scrutiny at the Committee of Public Accounts is the court case. The Department said it was most anxious to come in, and the liquidator was most anxious to come in and speak as much as he could. However, once the court case was initiated, it stopped them coming in. It is a pity there is not public scrutiny here.
We will have a private meeting this afternoon with David Hall and others specifically on this topic. Our concerns have been well ventilated here. The next notes in this correspondence are 5 and 6, which relate to the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, which will be noted and published but we will discuss it in private session.
Note 7 is the Exchequer borrowing requirement to refinance the commercial Irish Water loans.
Note 8 is the year-on-year decrease in loans to the Housing Finance Agency, HFA, between 2013 and 2017, to include details of any impact on the ability of the HFA to deliver new housing stock. We will note this. People can comment on that and use this information.
Note 9 is on the possible fines that can be levied against Ireland by the European Commission in respect of missed climate targets, to include details of the availability of carbon credits and their potential to offset fines. We will note this and specifically cover it in our periodic report during the week.
Note 10 is on the €14.5 million recovered from Aughinish Alumina, to include details of the deposit account in which it is being held and any fees or interest applicable. There also is a detailed note on that. A hearing took place on this on 2 April 2019 and a judgment is awaited. The money - approximately €15 million - has been left in a general zero interest account, or thereabouts, and is lodged with Danske Bank after a recommendation by the Comptroller and Auditor General some time ago. Note 10 is on the internal scoping exercise being carried out by the Department, to include details of the start and completion dates. This relates to the Comptroller and Auditor General's special report on Ireland's transactions with the EU. That is all noted.
The following notes, 11 and 12, are schedules and breakdowns on categories and grades of staff set out.
Note 13 is on the public interest directors as appointed to various banking bodies by the Minister, to include clarification of the role, structures, recent appointments and when any outstanding appointments are due to be completed. Members can read that information. We covered that subject generally at the meeting.
Note 14 is on the surge in corporation tax receipts in recent years and the development of GNI* to include the effect of multinational activity on Ireland’s EU contributions. There is a detailed note on this and the figures are given for 2016, 2017 and 2018. The correspondence refers to the budget contributions and a paper that has been commissioned in this regard. Mr. Moran stated in his correspondence:
Finally, it should be noted that the Minister for Finance has commissioned a paper to highlight some of these in-built vulnerabilities and to quantify where possible, the impact of such a shock. [This is a reference to the corporation tax issue] Potential solutions to this are presented in order to prompt a policy discussion around how best to mitigate against this emerging over-reliance [on corporation tax]. It is the Minister's intention to give consideration to these - and possibly other suggestions - with a view to making recommendations to Government in the autumn. [That obviously means before the budget]
This review of the potential over-reliance on corporation tax is being reviewed and we would expect to see information on that published before the autumn. Members should note that for the end of September. We need sight of that before the budget.
Note 15 is on the projected changes to Ireland's EU contributions and money received in the event of Brexit. Mr. Moran does not give the figure because he said it is sensitive information currently, but I believe a figure was mentioned by the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade yesterday.
The final item in Mr. Moran's correspondence is note 16 on An Post National Lottery Company entering voluntary liquidation after the sale of the franchise to include details of the winding-up process, the transfer of unclaimed prizes and any difficulties encountered. The board has liquidated all of its assets and cash in hand, but the transfer of expired unclaimed prizes did not impact on the matter because they were now defunct. That fund of unclaimed prizes is managed and controlled by the Regulator of the National Lottery. While Premier Lotteries Ireland - the private operator - sought these expired unclaimed prizes to supplement lottery prizes to supplement its lottery prize money the Department considers that the proper and legal course is that these moneys should be returned to the Exchequer, in support of the subvention of good causes, and Mr. Moran's Department has written to the national lottery regulator accordingly. The regulator has sought some additional information from the Department, which has recently been provided, and the Department currently awaits the regulator's decision. That issue of unclaimed prizes is being dealt with by the Regulator of the National Lottery and the Department is looking for the money to be returned to the Exchequer for good causes. They await a final outcome from the regulator on that. I apologise for all of those long documents but it is good to clear them.
We will move on to category C, which is correspondence from private individuals and other correspondence.
No. 2253C is from an individual, dated 16 May 2019, requesting the committee to make an inquiry regarding the University of Limerick student records system. A significant level of detail is provided in this correspondence and at our committee meeting on 20 June 2019 we decided to hold it over for further consideration. We had previously requested the University of Limerick for a response and the reply from the university stated there was no record of a submission from the individual concerned. It goes back a number of years to 2011 and 2012. As the matter is highlighted the individual has come forward stating that the grades she received in 2011 and 2012 were not adequately recorded. The individual has written again to the committee and it appears that she brought the matter to the attention of certain individuals at the college but not through the normal proper structures to have a regrading looked at. The individual is now saying that the college is not going back to 2011 and 2012. This matter is not within the remit of the committee and I do not see how the committee can help any further. We have exhausted this with the university directly. I propose to advise the individual that if she believes she was not treated fairly, she should contact the Office of the Ombudsman, if she has not already done that. We have taken it as far as we can. We are disappointed we did not get satisfaction but we cannot take it any further. Is that agreed? Agreed.
No. 2299C is anonymous correspondence in respect of Maynooth university. At our meeting on 27 June, the committee considered the 2018 accounts and statements of the National University of Ireland Maynooth and noted a provision of €750,000 relating to impairment of a loan to a loss-making subsidiary company that was set up to commercialise intellectual property and to provide consultancy and training services. Will the Comptroller and Auditor General indicate whether it was a provision or a write-off?