State Bodies Establishment

Ceisteanna (166)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

166. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of new State bodies that have been established under the aegis of his Department since February, 2011; the number of such bodies subject to a sunset clause; the number of new public bodies currently being planned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18334/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Arts)

My Department has not established any new State Bodies since February 2011 and there are no new bodies currently planned.

Gas Exploration Revenue

Ceisteanna (167, 168)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

167. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the current tax regime pertaining to Ireland's natural gas and oil reserves, his views further on whether the State is poised to reap the optimum benefit from these resources; if he will review the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18090/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

168. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he is monitoring recent developments relating to the potential extraction of oil off the Irish coast; his plans to encourage progress on this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18173/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 167 and 168 together.

There have been four commercial natural gas discoveries since exploration began offshore Ireland in the early 1970s, namely the Kinsale, Ballycotton and Seven Heads (Kinsale area) producing gas fields off the coast of Cork and the Corrib gas field off the coast of Mayo. There have been no commercial discoveries of oil to date.

The Kinsale area gas fields are now nearing depletion and currently provide approximately 5% of Ireland’s annual gas requirements. The Corrib gas field is under development and first gas is not anticipated before late 2014. All four gas fields are held under petroleum leases issued by my Department.

In terms of the direct financial contribution to the State, profits from the three Kinsale area gas fields are taxed at a rate of 25%. In addition, royalties from the Kinsale and Ballycotton gas fields are payable to the State at a rate of 12.5% of the fair market value of the gas at the well head. The combination of tax, royalties and rental fees currently provides for a State take of 40% of net income from these two fields.

Royalties are not payable on production from the Seven Heads Gas field or from future production from the Corrib gas field as Ireland moved away from a royalty based payments system to a tax based system in 1987. Profits from the Corrib gas field will be taxed at 25% when the field goes into production.

A comprehensive review of Ireland’s licensing terms was carried out in 2007 following which both the fiscal and non-fiscal licensing terms were revised. The revised terms seek to strike a balance between attracting those willing to invest in high-risk exploration while at the same time ensuring the State receives a fair share of profits where a commercial discovery is made. The revised licensing terms provide for a new profit resource rent tax of up to 15% in addition to the 25% corporate tax rate previously applying. The revised terms ensure that the return to the State will increase to a maximum of 40% in the case of the most profitable fields. The revised terms apply to all exploration licences issued since the beginning of 2007.

Countries that have petroleum production use a range of models to obtain a financial return from their natural resources. These models vary both in terms of the instruments used and in terms of the level of take which the State seeks to obtain. Some countries use a combination of instruments, such as: State participation in licences; production royalties; along with taxation, while other countries, including Ireland, take an approach that is principally based on taxing profits. Each country’s fiscal system tends to have its own individual characteristics.

In determining the appropriate approach at a national level a range of factors must be considered, with the principal factor being the relative prospectivity of the area. Directly replicating the fiscal regime of another country is unlikely to provide the optimum outcome. Regard must also be had to the approach adopted by countries with whom we are directly competing for a share of international exploration investment.

While there has been a modest but welcome upturn in the level of interest in exploration off our coast in recent years, the reality is that the only commercial discoveries of hydrocarbons made in the Irish offshore to date are the three producing gas fields in the Kinsale area and the Corrib gas field. Despite the low level of commercial discoveries to date, working petroleum systems are known to exist in many of Ireland’s offshore basins, as demonstrated by a number of non-commercial discoveries as well as other oil and gas indicators such as hydrocarbon shows in wells. Nevertheless, the oil and gas potential of the Irish offshore is largely unproven and is likely to remain so until there is a significant and sustained increase in the number of exploration wells being drilled from the current levels of 1 to 2 wells per year.

To this end my Department encourages exploration investment through an active and targeted promotion campaign, regular licensing rounds and by supporting petroleum research projects that deepen knowledge of the petroleum potential of the Irish offshore. Maintaining an appropriate fiscal regime is also critical to attracting this much need exploration investment to Ireland. Ireland does not have proven resources equivalent to those of major oil producing countries such as Norway, and as a consequence Ireland’s tax terms for oil and gas production are deliberately aimed at attracting new investment and are set at a level comparable to countries such as France, Portugal and Spain, who, like Ireland, have limited petroleum production and proven resources and with whom we compete for exploration investment.

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (169)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

169. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views regarding fibre optic broadband (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18216/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

Ireland’s telecommunications market has been fully liberalised since 1999 in accordance with the requirements of binding EU Directives. The market has since developed into a well-regulated market, supporting a multiplicity of commercial operators, providing services over a diverse range of technology platforms. Details of broadband services available in each County, including County Kerry, can be found on ComReg’s website at www.callcosts.ie.

The State can only intervene to ensure access to broadband services in areas where the competitive market has failed to deliver such services, as in the case of the National Broadband Scheme (NBS) and the Rural Broadband Scheme. NBS services are available within 85 of the 166 Electoral Divisions in County Kerry, including the general area of Waterville. I have attached a list of these Electoral Divisions.

With basic broadband services widely available across Ireland, the focus is now on accelerating the roll out of high speed services. The Government’s National Broadband Plan, which I published in August last, aims to radically change the broadband landscape in Ireland by ensuring that high speed services of at least 30Mbps are available to all of our citizens and businesses, well in advance of the EU’s target date of 2020, and that significantly higher speeds are available to as many homes and businesses as possible.

During the preparation of Ireland’s National Broadband Plan, the commercial market operators indicated that they expect to provide 70Mbps to 100Mbps services to 50% of the population by 2015. Since the publication of the Plan, investments by the commercial sector are underway in both fixed line and mobile high speed broadband services, particularly in urban and semi-urban areas.

The Government is also committed in the Plan to investing in areas where high speed services are not commercially viable and will not be provided by the market. In an important milestone towards delivery of this commitment in the Plan, my Department has identified, following the evaluation of tender responses to a request for experts, the preferred bidder to assist in the design, planning and procurement of the State-led investment. Intensive technical, financial and legal preparations including stakeholder engagement will be ongoing throughout 2013 with a view to the launch of a procurement process in 2014. High-speed broadband services can be delivered by a diverse range of technology platforms and it is intended to adopt a technology-neutral approach in this procurement process.

Through the implementation of the National Broadband Plan, we are committed to increasing the availability of next generation speeds significantly, with a view to ensuring that all citizens and businesses can participate fully in a digitally enabled society. I would reiterate that the Government remains committed to ensuring that all parts of Ireland, including all of County Kerry, will have at least 30Mbps connectivity, through public or private sector investment, as outlined in the National Broadband Plan.

Electoral Divisions (ED) Covered by the NBS in County Kerry

ED Name

ED Reference No.

AGHADOE

ED 77002

ARDEA

ED 77006

BAHAGHS

ED 77009

BALLINSKELLIGS

ED 77011

BALLYBRACK

ED 77013

BALLYDUFF

ED 77016

BANAWN

ED 77026

BOOLTEENS

ED 77031

BRANDON

ED 77032

BREWSTERFIELD

ED 77033

BROSNA

ED 77034

CANUIG

ED 77037

CAPPAGH

ED 77038

CARKER

ED 77039

CARRAGH

ED 77040

CASTLEGREGORY

ED 77043

CHURCHTOWN

ED 77047

CLOGHANE

ED 77048

CLOON

ED 77050

CLOONTUBBRID

ED 77051

CLYDAGH

ED 77052

COOLIES

ED 77053

COOM

ED 77054

CORDAL

ED 77055

CRINNY

ED 77056

CURRAGHBEG

ED 77057

CURRAGHMORE

ED 77058

DARRYNANE

ED 77060

DAWROS

ED 77061

DEELIS

ED 77062

DERREEN

ED 77063

DERRIANA

ED 77064

DOOCARRIG

ED 77066

DROMMARTIN

ED 77069

DROMORE

ED 77070

DUAGH

ED 77071

DUNQUIN

ED 77073

DUNURLIN

ED 77074

EMLAGH

ED 77075

FLESK

ED 77077

GLANBEHY

ED 77078

GLANLEE

ED 77079

GLANLOUGH

ED 77080

GLANMORE

ED 77081

GLIN

ED 77082

GNEEVES

ED 77083

ED Name

ED Reference No.

GREENANE

ED 77084

HEADFORT

ED 77087

INCH

ED 77088

KERRYHEAD

ED 77090

KILCUMMIN

ED 77092

KILFEIGHNY

ED 77093

KILFLYN

ED 77095

KILGARRYLANDER

ED 77096

KILGARVAN

ED 77097

KILGOBBAN

ED 77098

KILLINANE

ED 77105

KILMALKEDAR

ED 77108

KILMEANY

ED 77109

KILMURRY

ED 77110

KILNANARE

ED 77111

KILQUANE

ED 77112

KILSHENANE

ED 77113

KNOCKNAGASHEL

ED 77118

KNOCKNAHOE

ED 77119

LACK

ED 77120

LACKABAUN

ED 77121

LICKEEN

ED 77124

LOUGHBRIN

ED 77130

LOUGHCURRANE

ED 77131

MARHIN

ED 77132

MASTERGEEHY

ED 77133

MAUM

ED 77134

MILLBROOK

ED 77135

MOUNT EAGLE

ED 77139

NEWTOWNSANDES

ED 77142

NOHAVAL

ED 77143

RATHEA

ED 77147

RATHMORE

ED 77148

ROCKFIELD

ED 77150

ST FINAN'S

ED 77154

TAHILLA

ED 77156

TEERANEARAGH

ED 77159

TRIENEARAGH

ED 77162

VENTRY

ED 77166

Ministerial Advisers Remuneration

Ceisteanna (170)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

170. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide details of all pay increases awarded to special advisors in his Department over the last two years. [18308/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

There are two Special Advisers, Mr Finbarr O’Malley and Mr Simon Nugent, employed in my Department. Both were appointed by the Government, on my behalf, with effect from 28 March 2011 and 11 April 2011, respectively.

Sanction was granted by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to appoint Mr O’Malley at a salary rate of €83,337 per annum and Mr Nugent at a salary rate of €97,200 per annum. Mr O’Malley was awarded an annual increment on the Principal Officer Standard pay scale on 28 March 2012 and 28 March 2013, a total increase of €6,561. This is in line with the terms of his appointment. Mr Nugent’s salary has not increased as it is not linked to a pay scale and the awarding of increments does not apply in his case.

Ministerial Advisers Remuneration

Ceisteanna (171)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

171. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide in a tabular format a list of all his special advisers' pay and that of his Minister of State, to include each salary, name of employee above principal officer standard and scale salary rate; and if he will supply the total pay bill for all his special advisers for 2012. [18322/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The information requested by the Deputy is outlined as follows:

Name

Post

Current Salary

Finbarr O’Malley

Special Adviser to Minister

€89,898

(4th point Principal Officer Standard Scale)

Simon Nugent

Special Adviser to Minister

€97,200

(not linked to salary scale)

The Minister of State at my Department does not employ a Special Adviser. The total pay bill for Special Advisers in 2012 was €200,460. This total includes employer’s PRSI and expenses.

State Bodies Establishment

Ceisteanna (172)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

172. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of new State bodies that have been established under the aegis of his Department since February, 2011; the number of such bodies subject to a sunset clause; the number of new public bodies currently being planned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18336/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I wish to advise the Deputy that I have not established any new State bodies since February 2011 and I do not plan to establish any new bodies.

Motor Tax Yield

Ceisteanna (173)

David Stanton

Ceist:

173. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the total amount of motor tax receipts in 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively; the number of vehicles taxed in each of these years; the number who opted for three month, six month and 12 month tax discs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18128/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

Total gross motor tax receipts and the number of motor tax transactions by year and duration of vehicle licence for each of the years requested are contained in Table 1. It should be noted that this does not equate to the total number of vehicles taxed in each of the years concerned, as some owners will have exercised more than on e option in a particular year and a breakdown of this data is not readily available. The total number of vehicles taxed at the end of December in each of the years concerned is contained in Table 2.

Table 1 – Gross motor tax receipts and number of vehicle licences taken out.

Year

Total Gross Motor Tax Receipts (€)

Annual licences

Half Year licences

Quarterly licences

Total Number of licences

2010

1,023,823,935

1,464,303

742,973

2,357,600

4,564,876

2011

1,010,419,164

1,480,747

705,846

2,436,273

4,622,866

2012

1,054,701,750

1,448,517

682,496

2,481,073

4,612,086

Table 2 – Number of vehicle under taxation at end of December 2010, 2011 and 2012.

-

No. of vehicles taxed

31 December 2010

2,416,387

31 December 2011

2,425,156

31 December 2012

2,403,223

Infrastructure and Capital Investment Programme

Ceisteanna (174, 175)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

174. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has responsibility in line with guidelines for the provision of infrastructure and capital investments through public private partnerships as published by the National Development Finance Agency in 2005, for all PPP waste projects within the State; if he has such responsibility, his views that the Poolbeg incinerator project, Dublin, continues to represent value for money for the Exchequer; if so, in what way he has satisfied himself that this project passes the necessary NDFA value for money and public sector benchmark tests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18023/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

175. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has any concerns about the viability of the Poolbeg incinerator, the risk of financial penalties which taxpayers may be exposed to arising out of the failure of Dublin City Council to meet its contractual obligations with the project's developer and the fact that the National Development Finance Agency has informed Dublin City Council that its value for money options issued in June 2007 is no longer valid; in the event that he has such concerns if he will outline the actions he intends to take to ensure that the Exchequer and taxpayers' interests are protected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18024/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 174 and 175 together.

All Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects are subject to guidelines for the Provision of Infrastructure and Capital Investments through Public Private Partnerships. In accordance with the Guidelines, the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) carries out a value for money assessment of the proposed Public Private Partnership agreement. It compares the PPP approach to a Public Sector Benchmark, which is presented as a single monetary value that represents the full estimated cost, taking income and risks into account, of delivering the project using “traditional” public sector procurement.

In the case of the Dublin Waste to Energy project, in 2005, the NDFA advised that it was of the opinion that the preferred bidders’ financial model provided value for money. Following corporate restructuring in 2007, the NDFA advised that the updated financial model provided value for money relative to public sector benchmark and there was no material change in the financial gain to the State from the position as registered in its previous assessment.

The Waste to Energy facility proposed for Poolbeg is being developed by Dublin City Council on behalf of the four Dublin local authorities as part of the implementation of the region’s waste management plan, which is a statutory responsibility of local authorities under section 22 of the Waste Management Act 1996. Therefore, the progression of the project is a matter for parties to the contract, Dublin City Council and its private partner and discussions have been ongoing between the parties. Upon conclusion of discussions between the parties, any revisions to the PPP agreement will be submitted to the NDFA for assessment and this will inform any further action which may be required.