Other Questions.

Dormant Accounts Fund.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

101 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has quantified the full extent of the funds likely to accrue to his Department in 2004 and on an annual basis thereafter from dormant accounts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11863/04]

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

112 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when he expects to publish the legislation changing the current system for the allocation of dormant account funds; if the present board was consulted on the proposed changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11916/04]

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

120 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the funding available from dormant accounts; the amount of this which will be paid out in 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11901/04]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

147 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of applications he has received from the various bodies seeking grant aid from the dormant accounts fund; the extent to which he has disbursed or expects to disburse such funds in 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11862/04]

I propose to take Question Nos. 101, 112, 120 and 147 together.

As Deputies are aware, decisions on disbursement of funds from dormant accounts moneys are currently a matter for the Dormant Accounts Fund Disbursements Board. The board is an independent body established under the Dormant Accounts Acts.

The board is currently deciding on the disbursement of funds up to €30 million. In this regard, the board has engaged Area Development Management Limited, ADM, to administer the initial round of funding on its behalf. An invitation to organisations, groups, etc., to make applications for funding was advertised in the national press on Friday 21 November 2003. The closing date for receipt of applications for this round of funding was 5 March 2004.

I understand approximately 1,500 applications were received and these have been evaluated. To date, the board has approved 46 projects totalling approximately €5 million.

Given that the dormant accounts fund spend is reckonable in the general government balance, it has been decided that spend on applications will generally be of the order of €30 million per annum. In addition, as announced by the Minister for Finance in December 2003, a further €10 million from the fund is being allocated in 2004 to the rural social scheme.

Draft legislation to give effect to the proposed changes announced by the Government last December is currently being prepared and will be published in the next few weeks. The proposed changes were discussed by the disbursement board at its December 2003 meeting.

With regard to the level of funding available, the first transfer of moneys from credit institutions to the dormant accounts fund, managed by the National Management Treasury Agency, took place at the end April 2003. The total involved was approximately €196 million. Since then, some €27.5 million has been reclaimed and €3.5 million earned from investing the fund, leaving a current total of approximately €172 million in the fund. This figure includes a reserve which must be maintained to meet claims for repayment and various costs associated with administering the scheme.

A second transfer of funds from credit institutions together with the first transfer of moneys from life assurance policies will take place at the end of this month. I do not yet have an accurate estimate as to the likely yield from these sources.

Has the Minister of State inquired of the insurance companies regarding the likelihood of the size of the donation coming from that quarter?

At what time in the course of each year is it proposed to allocate the funds? Has a specified time been identified? Will it be at the end of the year or the beginning of the year?

The Minister of State indicated to the House the funds to date. Has he received any indicators as to the size of the funds likely to be available and how they will become available on an annual basis? That does not mean that the funding stops; it can continue indefinitely on an annual basis. Will he inform the House, in so far as accurate information is available, as to the precise calculations available in regard to both of these financial sectors?

Early indications from insurance companies is that we can expect in the region of €40 million or €45 million. However, early indications on dormant bank accounts also suggested a higher figure. The total may reduce somewhat as attempts are made by insurance companies to trace account holders.

There is no specified time of the year for allocations to be made. Allocations for funding are considered at each board meeting. To date, €5 million has been allocated. Applications are approved at each six-weekly meeting. The money may not have yet been paid out as legal agreements have to be entered into with successful applicants. A shortage of staff may also have led to delays.

A small amount of money will come from dormant bank accounts and insurance policies on an ongoing basis each year. It will be a small trickle compared with the initial figures. There will be a far greater awareness as well as a far greater responsibility on the financial institutions and insurance companies to locate account holders and policyholders or their descendants. We will shortly see what additional moneys will come from financial institutions for the first year. I do not expect this sum to be large. We will continue to monitor the situation.

Written Answers follow Adjournment Debate.