Household Charge Collection

Question No. 189 answered with Question No. 178.

Ceisteanna (188)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

188. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if the Revenue Commissioners are willing to negotiate settlements with persons who face a double charge for an unpaid household charge. [21138/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that with effect from 1 July 2013, Section 156 of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (as amended) converted arrears of Household Charge (HHC) to Local Property Tax (LPT), increased the liability from €100 to €200 per property and made Revenue responsible for its collection.

As part of Revenue's recent HHC compliance programme, property owners whose records indicated that the liability had not been paid were notified of the outstanding charge and advised to either pay within a specified period of time or confirm the reasons as to why the liability was not due.

Revenue has confirmed to me that while it does not have any discretion to accept 'settlement' payments of amounts other than the statutory €200 charge, it has made all of the payment methods that are available for LPT also available for HHC to ease any burden on citizens. From these options, persons with outstanding liabilities can choose the payment method that best suits their individual circumstances. For the Deputy's information the options include phased payments through the approved service providers (An Post, Omnivend and Payzone), direct debit and deduction at source over the course of the year from employment or occupational pension.

The Deputy should be aware that liable persons who opt for phased payment by service provider or direct debit may be liable to processing charges by the provider or the financial institution, which is outside of Revenue's control. However there is no charge in respect of the deduction at source option, which is administered by Revenue.

Question No. 189 answered with Question No. 178.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (190)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

190. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if a tax refund is due in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin. [21159/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the person concerned submitted claims for refunds of tax for the year 2002 and the years 2004 to 2007 in June 2012.  Section 865 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (as amended) provides for a four-year time limit in relation to claims made for refunds of taxes, that is, a claim for a refund of tax for any year will not be allowed unless it is made within 4 years after the end of the year to which the claim relates. Due to the express nature of this "4-year rule" as prescribed by statute, and there being no provision permitting a derogation by way of waiver or relaxation of that rule, it is outside the remit of the Revenue Commissioners to allow the claims for refund for the years in question.

The person concerned appealed this decision to the Appeal Commissioners. The appeal was refused by the Appeal Commissioner who found in favour of the Revenue Commissioners. The person has now requested to have the case re-heard by a Circuit Court Judge and a hearing is currently in the process of being arranged.

Credit Unions Services

Ceisteanna (191)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

191. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance if credit unions will be facilitated to return to lending and serving their members by the Central Bank of Ireland easing or lifting unreasonable, inflexible lending restrictions, as the section 35 restrictions are preventing members from benefitting from improvements in the financial circumstances and should be revisited and revised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21170/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Credit unions have an important role to play in providing credit in local communities around the country and I am supportive of safe and responsible lending by credit unions.  

Section 35(2) of the Credit Union Act 1997 permits a credit union to have up to 30% of its loan book outstanding for more than 5 years and up to 10% of its loan book outstanding for more than 10 years. Based on the most recent information provided by credit unions to the Central Bank in the December 2013 quarterly prudential returns, average lending over 5 years as a percentage of gross loans was some 11%, while average lending over 10 years as a percentage of gross loans was about 2%. These figures indicate that, in general, credit unions are currently well within the limits as set down in the 1997 Act.

Acting as the independent regulator, the Registrar of Credit Unions at the Central Bank has applied lending restrictions to some credit unions.  I have been informed that these restrictions are viewed as short term in the majority of cases and are imposed as a means of allowing a credit union to address identified concerns as quickly as possible. Where lending restrictions are imposed they tend to take the form of a restriction on individual loan size or on commercial lending activity and in some cases, a limit on the total lending permitted each month. At this time fewer than 10% of all credit unions have a restriction in place which limits the total amount of lending within the month, while close to 40% of all credit unions have a restriction on commercial lending activity. Currently, the average loan rate in the sector is just over €6,000 and only about a dozen individual credit unions have lending restrictions that limit the amount loaned to less than €10,000. This ensures that the vast majority of credit unions can continue to make loans significantly greater than the average loan for the sector. The Registrar of Credit Unions has assured me that restrictions are reviewed on a regular basis.

On foot of recommendations from the Commission on Credit Unions, section 11 of the Credit Union and Co-operation with Overseas Regulators Act 2012 substantially amends section 35 of the 1997 Act. Section 11 will be commenced in tandem with new Central Bank regulations on lending, which are to be introduced as part of the tiered regulatory approach recommended by the Commission.  The Central Bank has recently held the first of its consultation processes on the tiered regulatory approach and is considering the views submitted by credit unions and others.

Credit Unions Regulation

Ceisteanna (192)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

192. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance if he will revise the tiered regulatory approach proposals contained within the consultation paper published by the Central Bank of Ireland which would have significant detrimental impact on many credit union until the next phase of the consultation process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21171/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Commission on Credit Unions in its final Report recommended a tiered regulatory approach for credit unions. The Central Bank issued a consultation paper on the  proposed tiered regulatory approach in order to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to set out their views across a range of issues. I have been informed by the Central Bank that the structure of the tiered regulatory approach has not yet been agreed. The purpose of the consultation process is to seek views from credit unions and other sector stakeholder on:

- the proposed approach to tiering;

- the high level operation of the tiers, including the activities and services proposed for credit unions in each tier; and

- the appropriate timing for the introduction of a tiered regulatory approach for credit unions.

The consultation process was extended by one month to 31 March 2014, at the request of sector stakeholders. The Central Bank is currently considering over 160 submissions received and following analysis of these submissions, will communicate with credit unions and other stakeholders in relation to the proposed next steps.

Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme

Question No. 194 answered with Question No. 169.

Ceisteanna (193)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

193. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance if a person qualifies under the disabled drivers and passengers scheme in respect of her father, who will be a passenger in her car but has had a leg amputated, in view of the fact that his daughter does not live in the same house as her father, but lives nearby and is with him every day; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21172/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that Section 134(3) of the Finance Act 1992 (as amended) and the 1994 Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations, 1994 (S.I. 353 of 1994) (as amended) provide for permanent relief from the payment of specified maximum amounts of VAT and Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) for persons registered under the scheme.

The scheme is open to persons with a disability who meet specified medical criteria and who have obtained a Primary Medical Certificate. The medical criteria encompass persons who are without the use of one or both legs.  A Primary Medical Certificate is issued by the Senior Area Medical Officer (local HSE Office) following a medical assessment.

A person can apply for relief either as a driver with a disability or a passenger with a disability. Alternatively, there is provision for a family member of a passenger with a disability to apply. The family member must reside with, and be responsible for, the transport of the person with a disability. However, Revenue may, in exceptional circumstances, waive the residency requirement.  This requirement will normally be waived where the applicant acts as a carer for the family member with the disability and has responsibility for the transportation of that person. The relief is confined to one family member of the person with a disability.

Full details of the scheme, including the legislative criteria which must be met, are set out in Information Leaflet VRT 7 which is available on the Revenue website www.revenue.ie  

In the case referred to by the Deputy, once the Primary Medical Certificate has been obtained by the person with the disability, his family member should contact Revenue's Central Repayments Office at 1890 60 60 61 and they will provide further information and assistance to enable that person pursue an application under the scheme.

Question No. 194 answered with Question No. 169.

Universal Social Charge Exemptions

Ceisteanna (195)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

195. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance the reason pre-1995 Civil Service pensioners are treated differently from post-1995 civil servants in respect of the universal social charge, adversely affecting the take-home pension of the pre-1995 civil servants; and if he will provide for an exemption of an amount equal to the State pension to correct this inequality. [21189/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The situation is that established civil servants recruited prior to 6 April 1995 do not pay a personal pension contribution, though in most cases they are required to pay a contribution towards dependant benefits amounting to 1.5% of pay.

Established civil servants recruited on or after 6 April 1995 do pay a personal pension contribution, amounting to 1.5% of pay and 3.5% of net pay (defined as pay less twice the rate of Contributory State Pension). They are also subject to a 1.5% contribution towards dependant benefits.

The introduction in 1995 of contributions towards personal pension benefits for new-joiner established civil servants (appointed on or after 6 April 1995) carried an entitlement to being fully-insured under the Social Welfare system (i.e. they pay full PRSI). This means their pensions are integrated with the State contributory pension (meaning in particular that the calculation of their civil service pension reflects an offset in respect of assumed entitlement to the State contributory pension). By contrast, pre-1995 civil servants who in general pay a lower modified rate of social insurance, do not qualify for most social welfare benefits and receive occupational pensions which are not integrated with the State contributory pension.

USC is charged on all occupational pensions, both public and private sector, whereas social welfare pensions are exempt. While the State contributory pension portion of the post 1995 civil servants pensions is exempt from USC, the same rules apply to the occupational portion of their pension that apply to everybody else in receipt of an occupational pension.

As you may be aware, delivering on a commitment in the Programme for Government, the USC was reviewed by the Department of Finance in the lead up to Budget 2012. The report is available at www.finance.gov.ie. As a result of the review of the USC, the Government decided in Budget 2012 to increase the entry point to the Universal Social Charge from €4,004 to €10,036 per annum. It is estimated that this removed almost 330,000 individuals from the charge.

The review also examined the impact of the USC on public sector pensioners and set out a number of options to address this matter, including an option to apply USC to the State pension which it was estimated would  have yielded €330 million at a time when the public finances were under severe pressure. It was also estimated that to treat non-integrated public sector pensions as exempt from USC would have cost €90 million. On consideration it was decided that to implement the latter would undermine the principle of USC being applied to as wide a base as practicable and that the cost would have to be made up elsewhere at a time when other sectors of society were already being asked to accept a series of onerous expenditure cutbacks.

NAMA Court Cases

Ceisteanna (196)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

196. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide in tabular form the annual value of judgments obtained, together with the sums recovered, in respect of those judgments, by the National Asset Management Agency against companies and persons, as a result of proceedings in the courts here in each of 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. [21194/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by NAMA that it has obtained judgements totalling over €2.3 billion to date, details of which are set out below.

Year

Value of Judgement

2010

€82,434, 690

2011

€617,382,642

2012

€965,565,689

2013

€650,369,981

Total

€2,315,948,710

NAMA advises that judgements, where obtained, do not themselves give rise to debt realisation but rather are used as a legal mechanism to increase potential recoveries.  Judgements are used to, inter alia, confirm debts related to specific security, obtain security over unencumbered assets known to be owned by a debtor or to confirm debt against guarantors and other parties to a loan.  NAMA has successfully used judgements in court actions against debtors and has, through this and other mechanisms, including its ongoing engagement with debtors, obtained charges over unencumbered assets both in Ireland and abroad with a value in excess of €800m.

NAMA Staff Data

Ceisteanna (197)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

197. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Finance the current staffing total at the National Asset Management Agency; if, in view of the disposal by the special liquidators of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation of 90% of the IBRC loan book and the decision by him to instruct the special liquidators to re-offer the unsold IBRC to the market, the current staffing is appropriate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21195/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised that 374 NTMA staff are currently, in accordance with Section 41 of the NAMA Act, assigned to NAMA.  I am advised that NAMA is appropriately staffed to deal with its current workload.  As the Deputy states, the Special Liquidators of IBRC have confirmed that they now expect that the proceeds from the sale of IBRC assets will be sufficient to fully discharge the outstanding secured debt owed to NAMA and that, therefore, it will not be necessary to transfer any IBRC assets to NAMA. Accordingly, I am advised that NAMA will not require any additional staff for purposes arising from the liquidation of IBRC.

IBRC Liquidation

Ceisteanna (198)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

198. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Finance the reason the Special Liquidators recently sought legal immunity for him in respect of ongoing racketeering proceedings in New York, in consideration for selling loans relating to an organisation (details supplied) in Dublin to a purchaser who is pursuing the racketeering proceedings and who was apparently offering the highest price for those loans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21196/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I have been advised by the Special Liquidators that they are not in a position to comment on individual cases. The information requested is confidential and it would not be appropriate for the Special Liquidators to release such information.

NAMA Expenditure

Ceisteanna (199)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

199. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Finance following the report by the National Asset Management Agency for the third quarter of 2013 that it had spent €3,408,000 on what it termed Irish Bank Resolution Corporation integration costs, if he will confirm the cumulative amount expended to date by the National Asset Management Agency on such costs. [21197/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised that updated information on NAMA IBRC integration costs will be set out in the Agency's Annual Accounts for 2013 and in its Q4 2013 Section 55 Quarterly Accounts, both of which will be published at the end of this month. The costs take account of the necessary preparatory work which was required in the expectation that loans would be acquired from the Special Liquidators. It also includes costs associated with transferring to Capita Asset Services the management of loans of €41 billion par debt which NAMA had acquired from Anglo Irish Bank and INBS and which were being serviced by IBRC up to its liquidation.  Both sets of accounts will be published on the Agency's website, www.nama.ie.

Banks Recapitalisation

Ceisteanna (200)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

200. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the implications of the European Commission's approval of the AIB restructuring plan for the Government's efforts to achieve a deal on retrospective recapitalisation of the banks including AIB; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21216/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I would like to welcome the approval by the European Commission of the AIB Restructuring Plan last week. The approval by the Commission is an important external validation that the plan contains a credible strategy to return AIB to profitability and a position where it can support the Irish economy in the years ahead. This view has been further reinforced by the announcement yesterday by AIB that the bank returned to profit during the first quarter of 2014, which was earlier than expected.  

From the State's perspective the plan lays out a path that will ensure the Irish taxpayer ultimately can see a return of its substantial investment  in the bank. It also brings to an end a period of uncertainty about what the future shape of the bank would look like which is important for all stakeholders including staff.

The Restructuring Plan includes a set of commitments which AIB will respect during the restructuring period, i.e. until the end of 2017. Those commitments comprise, among other things, targets on cost reduction and a ban on acquisitions. Moreover, AIB will operate "market opening measures" to facilitate the market entry of competitors, comprising a "services package" and a "customer mobility package".

The approval of the plan by the Commission has no impact on any efforts to achieve a deal on retrospective recapitalisation of AIB.

Small and Medium Enterprises Debt

Ceisteanna (201)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

201. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the percentage of restructured small and medium enterprise loans which are adhering to the terms of their restructuring; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21217/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

In June 2013, the Central Bank set quarterly institution-specific performance targets for covered banks to move distressed SME borrowers onto longer-term forbearance solutions.  The targets set reflect the banks' capacity, processes and systems.  The Central Bank has informed the officials in my Department that the banks have reported that they have met their required targets to date.  This perspective has been reaffirmed by both the IMF and the European Commission who report that the workout of SME arrears is progressing and that imposed targets are being met. 

Resolutions offered to SME customers in difficulty are assessed on the basis of the borrower s maximum affordability. The restructures are often complex due to multiple debt connections.  Irish banks are advancing the process of restructuring their SME loan books.   I am informed by Bank of Ireland that the annual report for the year ended 31 December 2013 gives comprehensive additional asset quality disclosures on all of its Loan Portfolios from page 380 to 423, including details of forbearance measures on its SME loan portfolios from page 416.  In particular, Bank of Ireland have indicated that they had reached resolution in 90% of distressed SME cases. 

I am informed by AIB that disclosures in relation to its SME portfolio are contained in the Credit Risk disclosures on page 71 153 of the 2013 Annual Financial Report.  In particular, the AIB's results indicate a resolution level of approximately 65%.  It is also worth noting that defaulted loans for both banks have reduced year-on-year. 

The Central Bank's process of assessing financial institutions in their efforts to move distressed SME borrowers onto longer term sustainable solutions is an important element in assisting SMEs to potentially transition from a distressed to a more sustainable state and will continue in 2014. Additionally, the Government's enactment of legislation to allow small companies (as defined by the Companies Acts) to apply to the Circuit Court for examinership and the on going work of the expanded Credit Review Office are all initiatives that will assist viable SMEs in adressing their debt situation. 

Financial Institutions Levy

Question No. 203 answered with Question No. 184.

Ceisteanna (202)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

202. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the yield to date from the levy on domestic banks introduced in budget 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21219/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Financial Institutions Levy was announced in  Budget 2014, and the legislation governing the levy is contained in Section 126AA of the Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999 (inserted by Section 72 of Finance (No 2) Act 2013.

The levy is based on an institution s DIRT liability in 2011,  and will be in place for three years with an anticipated annual yield of €150 million.

As the first payments under the levy are not due until 20th October 2014, the yield to date is NIL.

Question No. 203 answered with Question No. 184.

VAT Rate Application

Ceisteanna (204)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

204. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if the 9% VAT rate will expire at the end of 2014; if the budget projections for 2015 contained in the stability programme update assume its expiration, the cost of retaining the 9% rate in 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21221/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The 9% reduced VAT rate for tourism related services was introduced in July 2011 as part of the Government Jobs Initiative. The measure was designed to boost tourism and create additional jobs in that sector.

In Budget 2014 I announced that the 9% VAT rate would be retained at a cost of €290 million in 2014 and €350 million in a full year.  The Budget change means that the 9% rate is not due to expire, it is subject to change in the normal course of the budgetary and Finance Bill process, as with all taxes.  This is what is assumed in the stability programme update.

Departmental Communications

Ceisteanna (205)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

205. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Finance if any telephone calls in or out of his Department are being, or ever have been recorded, and if so, if he will provide details of the systems used to record and store such calls, the cost to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21234/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

In response to the Deputy's question phone calls into or out of my Department are not currently being recorded nor have they been recorded in the past.

Mortgage Debt

Ceisteanna (206, 208)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

206. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Finance if he will address the concerns raised in correspondence (details supplied) regarding mortgage holders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21280/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

208. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding the way in which banks are dealing with distressed mortgage holders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21362/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 206 and 208 together.

As statutory regulator of credit institutions, the Central Bank has the power, from both a prudential and consumer protection perspective, to require banks to meaningfully and sustainably address mortgage arrears cases on their books.  The Deputies will be aware that the Central Bank's Mortgage Arrears Resolution Targets process, as announced in March 2013, sets time bound and measurable targets for the main banks requiring them to systematically address their arrears book.  The targets cover both proposed and concluded sustainable solutions with respect to both the lenders principal dwelling homes (PDH) and buy-to-let (BTL) mortgagees.  Under this rolling process, quarterly performance targets have so far been set to the end of June 2014 to require the banks to propose and put in place durable long-term solutions to address individual cases of mortgages in difficulty where the mortgage is more than 90 days in arrears.  The Central Bank has concluded its audit and assessment of a sample of the banks' end 2013 target returns.  Based on the information submitted, the Central Bank has advised that the banks have indicated they have proposed sufficient numbers of solutions to meet the targets of proposing solutions to 50% of those in arrears greater than 90 days and concluding 15% of these cases.

The consumer protection provisions of the Central Bank are contained within the Consumer Protection Code and the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA).  In particular, the CCMA sets out requirements for mortgage lenders dealing with borrowers facing or in mortgage arrears on their PDH mortgage and it applies to all regulated mortgage lenders. The CCMA is issued under Section 117 of the Central Bank Act 1989 and lenders covered by the Code are required to comply with it as a matter of law.  The Central Bank has the power to administer sanctions for a contravention of this Code.    

On the BTL mortgage aspect, the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, which falls within the remit of the Minister for Housing and Planning, provides the main regulatory framework for the private rental sector and prescribes the statutory rights and obligations of landlords and tenants.

The Central Bank published the revised CCMA in June 2013.  As part of the financial institutions' delivery of full implementation of the revised CCMA, the boards of directors of all mortgage lenders were required by the Central Bank to sign off that all of the provisions of the revised CCMA had been fully implemented and tested and that staff training had been completed.   Compliance with the CCMA will continue to be central to the Central Bank's work programme throughout 2014 and an inspection of mortgage lenders to test compliance with the revised CCMA will be conducted later this year. 

The CCMA provides a strong consumer protection framework to ensure that borrowers struggling to keep up mortgage repayments are treated in a fair and transparent manner by their lender, and that long-term resolution is sought by lenders with each of their borrowers. If a borrower is not happy with the way that their lender is dealing with them or if they think the lender is not complying with the CCMA, the borrower can make a complaint to their lender. Under the CCMA, borrowers have the right to appeal to the lender's Appeals Board if they are not happy with the alternative repayment arrangement offered or where a lender declines to offer an alternative repayment arrangement or if they believe they have been wrongly classified as not co-operating.   If the borrower is not happy with the outcome of the appeal/complaint made to the lender they can refer the matter to the Financial Services Ombudsman.

The monthly mortgage restructures and arrears data published by my Department provide an impetus for those MART banks to increase the pace of provision of mortgage restructures.  The latest publication, which is in respect of the end of February, shows that some progress has been made in putting permanent mortgage restructures in place.  For example, the number of permanent restructures of buy-to-let mortgages more than 90 days in arrears has risen from around 5,600 in December to around 6,000 in February 2014.  The data published by my Department, and the Central Bank quarterly mortgage arrears publications, would appear to demonstrate some progress by the lenders in addressing the accounts in arrears and putting in place appropriate measures to prevent borrowers from going into arrears.

Carbon Tax Implementation

Question No. 208 answered with Question No. 206.

Ceisteanna (207)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

207. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider reversing the recent increase in carbon tax in view of the fact that it is putting Border jobs at risk and driving revenue across the Border; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21319/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Although Carbon Tax was introduced in Budget 2010 for fossil fuels, its application  to solid fuels was delayed to allow for the development of a robust mechanism to counter the large scale sourcing of coal from Northern Ireland where lower sulphur standards apply. The Department of the Environment undertook to provide such a robust mechanism in conjunction with the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI). Such a mechanism is in place since June 2011 and the Air Pollution Act (Marketing, Sale, Distribution and Burning of Specified Fuels) Regulations 2012 specify the environmental standards for coal placed on the market and provide the regulatory framework in relation to the distribution and sale of coal in the State.

In particular, the Regulations require that all bituminous coal sold and used outside smoky coal ban areas for residential use outside those areas must have a sulphur content of no more than 0.7%, which is lower than that in Northern Ireland and therefore bituminous coal supplied to Northern Ireland standards for sale on that market may not be sold in the State. Compliance with the Regulations is be enforced by local authorities. A verification mechanism, SWiFT 7, has been developed by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) for the verification of sulphur content in coal. This provides for a robust mechanism to verify the sulphur content of coal to national standards.

Suppliers who produce and supply solid fuels in contravention of the Regulations are subject to investigation and prosecution under the Air Pollution Act by local authorities charged with enforcing the regulations and preventing such supply.

The application of the carbon tax to solid fuels was further postponed in 2012 given the overall tax increases in Budget 2012 including in the standard rate of VAT.

Budget 2013 commenced the application of carbon tax to solid fuels but I chose not to introduce this until after the 2012/2103 winter period and opted to introduce the tax in two phases i.e. €10 per tonne of CO2 from 1 May 2013 and a further €10 per tonne of CO2 from 1 May 2014 thus bringing the carbon tax on solid fuels in line with that on all other fossil fuels i.e. at €20 per tonne of CO2.

The introduction of Carbon Tax was about sending a price signal that there is a cost associated with the consumption of fossil fuels to the detriment of the environment. It should also be noted that solid fuels have the highest carbon content of all fossil fuels. As a result they are considered the dirtiest fuels and given the environmental impact it is important that they are taxed.

While tax increases are unpopular, where Member States are under fiscal pressure, it makes sense to increase taxes in areas where some benefits can arise, in this instance a carbon tax promotes energy efficiency, reduces emissions and reduces our dependence on imported fossil fuels.

Accordingly I do not intend to reverse the Carbon Tax increase on solid fuels from 1 May 2014.

Question No. 208 answered with Question No. 206.

IBRC Liquidation

Ceisteanna (209)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

209. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 23 of 8 April 2014, the total number of restitution payments made to relevant parties and the total value of all restitution and miscellaneous charges; if any creditors from outside this jurisdiction are yet to claim restitution; and the number of Irish credit unions that have been classed as unsecured creditors by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation special liquidators. [21389/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Unfortunately I am not in a position to provide a response in relation to the first part of this question as it appears to be outside my area of responsibility as Minister for Finance.

In relation to the number of Irish Credit Unions that have been classed as unsecured creditors in the liquidation of IBRC I understand that there are 16 Credit Unions that held tracker bonds in IBRC that will now stand as unsecured creditors.  

Household Charge Collection

Ceisteanna (210)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

210. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the options open to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11, to appeal or in any way request a review of the arrears charges that have been applied to his household charge demand as a result of a genuine misunderstanding about the application of the exemption criteria; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21424/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the record provided to it by the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) in respect of the property in question indicated that the Household Charge (HHC) was not paid and that an exemption or waiver certificate had not issued.

Revenue is satisfied from its own review of the case that the person in question is the registered owner of the relevant property since prior to 2012 and is therefore liable for the HHC.  While Section 4 of the Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides for exemptions from the HHC for some categories of properties, no such exemption applies in cases where a property was acquired prior to 2012 under the Local Authority Purchase Scheme and Revenue has no discretion in this regard. 

However, notwithstanding the above, Revenue recognises that the person in question acted in good faith based on the information he received. Revenue has assured me that the LPT team will make direct contact with the person in the coming days to discuss the issue and agree a mutually satisfactory arrangement.