Thursday, 1 June 2006

Ceisteanna (164, 165, 166, 167, 168)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

165 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when she will receive a report from Indecon International Economic Consultants on the implementation of the restructuring aid for the sugar industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21460/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

166 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when she will receive a report from Greencore consultants on the allocation of the restructuring aid for the sugar industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21461/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

167 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if in her assessment of the restructuring aid for the sugar industry factors such as the value remaining sugar assets and Siúcra brand will be taken into account; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21462/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

168 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food her intentions for the €43.6 million sugar diversification fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21463/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Agriculture and Food)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 to 168, inclusive, together.

Indecon International Economic Consultants were appointed by the Government to provide me with independent expert advice on matters relating to the implementation of the restructuring aid. Last month my Department issued a public call for submissions from interested parties in relation to the implementation of the aid and these submissions will be subject to scrutiny by Indecon. The deadline for the receipt of submissions is 2 June 2006.

Following Greencore's decision to cease sugar production, it is anticipated that the company will submit an application for restructuring aid in the first year of the new sugar regime, which comes into effect on 1 July 2006. The relevant Council Regulation requires that such an application, including a detailed restructuring plan for the industry, must be submitted by 31 July 2006 following consultations with the beet growers. A decision on the granting of the aid must then be made by the Member State by 30 September 2006 at the latest.

The Council Regulation provides that at least 10% of the aid shall be reserved for sugar beet growers and machinery contractors who have worked under contract with their agricultural machinery for the growers. That percentage may be increased by the Member State after consultation of interested parties provided that an economically sound balance between the elements of the restructuring plan is ensured. A decision on the percentage, taking account of all relevant factors, will be made in due course after the consultation process has been completed, the submissions have been examined by Indecon and following the adoption in the near future of the Commission Regulation laying down the detailed implementation rules. That Regulation will also cover the diversification aid which is to be drawn down in the framework of a national restructuring programme to be prepared and submitted to the EU Commission in due course.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

169 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food her rights via the golden share interest which she has in Irish Sugar; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21464/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

As Minister I hold a Special Share in Greencore plc. That share has the same monetary value as any other share in the company but has conditions attached which prevent the company from engaging in a number of activities without the prior written consent of the Minister. In summary, the Special Share prevents the disposal of the controlling interest in Irish Sugar Ltd, or the sale, transfer or disposal of more than 20% of specified assets, including lands and properties, of Irish Sugar Ltd in Carlow and in Mallow used in the production of sugar. It also prevents a single shareholder or group of shareholders from gaining control of Greencore plc. The Special Share does not empower me to get involved in operational matters or normal business decisions made by the company.