Defence Forces Reserve

Ceisteanna (49)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

49. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of vacancies in the Reserve Defence Forces by rank and unit at 31 December 2018, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4726/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The number of vacancies in the Reserve Defence Forces, as of 31 December 2018, is set out in the following table. The vacancies are broken down by Brigade as unit break downs could not be provided within the time set out for reply.

Unit Vacancies

Pte

Cpl

Sgt

CQ

CS

BQ

BSM

Lt

Capt

Comdt

Lt Col

DFHQ

0

0

9

0

0

0

0

1

4

1

2

1 Brigade

818

161

25

5

8

+2

0

+32

+3

6

0

2 Brigade

889

183

20

+16

+7

+3

+1

+26

8

12

0

DFTC

36

30

+5

0

+2

0

1

+6

6

0

0

Naval Service

38

6

6

0

5

0

0

+5

11

0

+1

*a plus value in a cell indicates that the given rank is above establishment by that figure.

The Government recognises the important role that the RDF play in contributing to Ireland's defence capability. The White Paper on Defence (2015) is clear that there is a continued requirement to retain and develop the Reserve Defence Force and it is currently on a developmental path arising from the recommendations of the White Paper.

The military authorities have informed me that they plan to run two recruitment campaigns for the Army Reserve and the Naval Service Reserve this year, one in March and a second in October. Exact opening and closing dates have not yet been confirmed.

Following on from the consolidation of the RDF, the strength at some ranks exceeded establishment figures. This is a legacy issue attributable to the effects of the reorganisation. Therefore these ranks are counted supernumerary to establishment.

Defence Forces Reserve

Ceisteanna (50)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

50. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number and rank of Reserve Defence Forces officer vacancies which arose in 2017 and 2018; the number promoted to fill the vacancies by brigade to date; the date on which further interviews will be conducted in each brigade to fill vacancies in the rank of captain, commandant and lieutenant colonel; the standard procedure to anticipate vacancies arising in the PDF officer ranks which is not applied in the RDF; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4727/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The following table shows the vacancies and promotions, in relation to officers, for 2017 and 2018.

Rank

Lt

Capt

Comdt

Lt Col

DFHQ Promotions 2017

N/A

0

0

0

DFHQ Promotions 2018

N/A

2

0

0

DFHQ Vacancies 2017

+3

6

1

1

DFHQ Vacancies 2018

1

4

1

2

1 Bde Promotions 2017

N/A

0

0

0

1 Bde Promotions 2018

N/A

23

1

0

1 Bde Vacancies 2017

+55

15

2

0

1 Bde Vacancies 2018

+32

+3

6

0

2 Bde Promotions 2017

N/A

0

0

0

2 Bde Promotions 2018

N/A

20

0

0

2 Bde Vacancies 2017

+48

23

8

0

2 Bde Vacancies 2018

+26

8

12

0

DFTC Promotions 2017

N/A

0

0

0

DFTC Promotions 2018

N/A

7

0

0

DFTC Vacancies 2017

+11

13

0

0

DFTC Vacancies 2018

+6

6

0

0

NS Promotions 2017

N/A

0

0

0

NS Promotions 2018

N/A

5

0

0

NS Vacancies 2017

+10

15

0

+1

NS Vacancies 2018

+5

11

0

+1

* A plus value in a cell indicates that the given rank is above establishment by this figure.

Military management has informed me that administrative procedures are currently underway towards advertising and conducting RDF promotion competitions to Commandant and Lieutenant Colonel rank. These competitions are planned to be conducted prior to the end of Quarter 1 2019. The administration of promotions from the rank of Lieutenant to Captain are also currently underway in close coordination with Brigades/Formations. These promotions are planned to be effected prior to the end of Quarter 1 2019.

There is no difference in the procedures employed to project vacancies within the RDF and the PDF.

Defence Forces Recruitment

Ceisteanna (51, 52)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

51. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if all Defence Forces personnel will be remeasured in view of his acknowledgement that inaccurate measurement has occurred; if the procedures for height measurement are being reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4740/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

52. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he is satisfied with the procedures carried out by the Defence Forces medical personnel to measure the height of recruits during the recruitment process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4814/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 51 and 52 together.

The minimum height requirement for general service recruitment is set out in Defence Force Regulations. The requirement was made following recommendations by a Defence Forces Working Group which reported in January 2006, which reduced the previous height requirement for both males and females. The height requirements in place is based on the ergonomic requirements for all members of the Defence Forces to train and carry out operations at home and overseas with service Personal Load Carrying Equipment.

The height requirements in place were introduced following detailed consideration and remain in place. The military authorities have informed me that they will conduct another review of the DF height standards to update, if necessary, the 2006 report.

There are no plans to re-measure all Defence Force Personnel.

Passport Applications

Ceisteanna (53)

Seán Crowe

Ceist:

53. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if an Irish citizen legally registered in Britain as the mother of a child conceived through assisted human reproduction with her British spouse who is the birth mother is eligible to apply for an Irish passport for the child. [4735/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

All passports are issued in accordance with the provisions of the Passports Act 2008 as amended ("the 2008 Act"). Under Section 7 of the 2008 Act, before issuing a passport I must be satisfied, amongst other things, that the person is an Irish citizen.

Irish citizenship is determined by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956 as amended ("the 1956 Act"). Section 7 of the 1956 Act outlines the requirements for obtaining Irish citizenship by descent. A person is an Irish citizen from birth if at the time of his or her birth either parent was an Irish citizen – although an additional requirement of registration is imposed in respect of children born outside the island of Ireland where the Irish citizen parent was also born outside the island of Ireland.

In this context parentage is a matter to be determined by Irish law. For the purposes of Irish law, and with specific reference to the 1956 Act, a parent is understood to mean either the “mother” or “father” of the child. For the purposes of Irish law, the mother of a child is the person who gives birth to the child or a female adopter of the child.

If the parent who has given birth to the child is not an Irish citizen, then her child cannot be regarded as an Irish citizen.

UN Funding

Ceisteanna (54)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

54. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if funding was provided in 2018 to the UNFPA supplies (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4777/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is a long standing supporter of UNFPA and provides non-earmarked core funding to the agency on an annual basis.

In 2018, the Department provided €3,500,000 in core funding to UNFPA, an increase of €700,000 on our 2017 core contribution. As outlined in the speech of the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, T.D., at the launch of the UNFPA’s State of the World Population Report in October, Ireland is proud to be a consistent supporter of UNFPA. Since 2006 we have provided funding of around €55 million to the Population Fund, the majority of which is core funding. Ireland values the critical work of UNFPA and is committed to core funding on the principle that this allows the agency to plan and to respond to the most important needs.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade did not provide funding in 2018 to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Supplies Thematic Programme.

Trade Relations

Ceisteanna (55)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

55. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his Department has been contacted by representatives of the administration of the United States of America with regard to the use of technology by a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4857/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

My Department has regular, constructive contacts with the US Administration both through our Embassy and Mission network in the US and through the US Embassy here in Dublin. Those contacts cover the full range of issues of on-going mutual interest and emerging foreign policy issues. In that context, I can confirm the Secretary General of my Department met with the US Chargé on 24 January for a wide-ranging discussion, during which the US approach to the company in question was briefly raised.

As part of on-going contacts with the US, I will be travelling to New York and Washington DC next week for a range of meetings with the Administration and with Congressional leaders.

Foreign Conflicts

Ceisteanna (56)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

56. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the violent response of the government of President Omar al-Bashir against protesters in Sudan in recent weeks will be condemned; if Ireland will put pressure on the EU to denounce the acts of oppression carried out by the Sudanese Government including curbing press freedom and detaining journalists and protesters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4883/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I am deeply concerned about the violence which has accompanied recent protests in Sudan, including credible reports of the use of live fire by the Government of Sudan and of multiple deaths.

Demonstrations, triggered by spiralling costs of living, began in the city of Atbara in the north east of the country on 19 December last year, spreading to over twenty towns and cities. While initially the protests were against the worsening economic situation, they quickly developed into calls for President Omar al-Bashir’s resignation.

President Omar al-Bashir reacted by closing schools and declaring a state of emergency in some regions. Sudanese police have used tear gas and live ammunition in an attempt to disperse crowds. It is reported that almost 1,000 people have been arrested across the country since protests began. The Sudanese Government has said that 30 people have been killed during demonstrations, while Sudanese activists and medical workers say that the number killed is at least 45. The use of live fire and arbitrary detention cannot be justified.

Ireland fully supports the EU's 24 December 2018 call on the Government of Sudan to exercise restraint, respect the right to peaceful protest and ensure that all law enforcement and security bodies act under its direct control and in accordance with Sudan's constitutional and international commitments. Ireland also stands fully behind the EU statement of 11 January 2019 which calls on the Government of Sudan to release all journalists, members of the opposition, human rights defenders and other protesters arbitrarily detained, and to guarantee the independence of the Investigation Committee tasked with the investigation of abuses. The Embassy of Ireland in Nairobi, which is accredited to Sudan, continues to monitor the situation closely in cooperation with the Delegation of the European Union in Khartoum.

In addition to the current unrest, Sudan continues to suffer from a range of humanitarian crises, driven by protracted conflicts, inequality and climate change. These feed into the popular disaffection leading to protests. This humanitarian situation has been further exacerbated by the economic crisis in 2018, leading to severe levels of food insecurity and malnutrition across the country. More than 1.8 million people are internally displaced and Sudan hosts a further 1.2 million refugees that have fled conflict in neighbouring countries, the majority of whom rely on humanitarian aid for their survival. As a result, an estimated 5.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Sudan this year, including 2.6 million children. Ireland is responding to these crises, with almost €26 million in direct humanitarian assistance to Sudan through our UN, NGO and Red Cross partners since 2012.

Diplomatic Representation

Ceisteanna (57)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

57. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if consideration is being given to appointing an Irish consul in Guinea; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4911/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The Embassy of Ireland in Sierra Leone is accredited on a non-residential basis to Guinea. The Embassy is at the forefront of efforts to promote our political and economic interests, our values, and in providing important services to the Irish people and business community in West Africa.

With the launch last year of ‘Global Ireland 2025’, the Government is committed to significantly expanding our diplomatic, commercial and cultural networks globally.This includes efforts to bolster our existing political and economic connections in West Africa and to seek out new opportunities and links in the region. As part of this, the Embassy of Ireland in Liberia was established in June 2018 (which replaced the Development Office in the country) and there is a commitment to deliver a new flagship Embassy building in Nigeria. There is also a commitment to open new Embassies in West Africa, in particular to serve our interests in the Sahel and Francophonie. First steps to achieving these aims have already been taken, with Ireland recently gaining observer member status at the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.

In considering expanding our diplomatic representation overseas, a range of factors are taken into account, including our national political, economic and trade priorities, as well as the availability of resources. The Government is conscious of the factors that might warrant the opening of a resident diplomatic mission in Guinea, as in a number of other countries. This will be taken fully into account in ongoing work on the ‘Global Ireland’ initiative.

VAT Rate Application

Ceisteanna (58, 64, 65, 66, 68)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

58. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the reason for changing the application of VAT (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4835/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Clare Daly

Ceist:

64. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance if supplements such as probiotics that are being taken on the advice of or as prescribed by a consultant gastroenterologist will be subject to a 23% VAT rate after 1 March 2019 or if an exemption will apply. [4806/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Clare Daly

Ceist:

65. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance when the 2019 Tax Strategy Group paper including a review of VAT rates for food supplements and vitamins will be published. [4807/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Danny Healy-Rae

Ceist:

66. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if the decision to introduce a VAT rate of 23% on food supplements such as vitamins will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4844/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

68. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance the rationale for the 23% VAT rate for health supplements; if his attention has been drawn to the effect it will have on regular purchasers of supplements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4882/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 58, 64 to 66, inclusive, and 68 together.

The standard rate of VAT applies to food supplements. However, a Revenue Commissioners concession allowed the zero rate to be applied to certain types of vitamins, minerals and fish oils. Revenue has since decided to remove this concession with effect from 1 March 2019 so that all food supplements will be charged at the standard VAT rate.

It should be noted, however, that human oral medicines, including certain folic acid and other vitamin and mineral products, licenced by the Health Products Regulatory Association will continue to apply at the zero rate of VAT. Infant foods and food products such as yoghurts that contain probiotic ingredients will also continue to be zero rated.

The operation of the concession became extremely problematic as a result of efforts by certain businesses in the industry to extend the concession beyond the scope permitted. Consistent challenges to Revenue guidance and decisions on the VAT rating of products gave rise to serious concerns about compliance within the industry and unfair competition between compliant and non-compliant businesses.

However, independent of Revenue’s decisions on interpretation, I agreed during the recent Finance Bill to put in place a process that will conclude in the 2019 Tax Strategy Group Paper to examine some of the policy choices around the VAT treatment of food supplements. The Tax Strategy group paper will be published, in line with previous years, in the summer of this year.

Insurance Costs

Ceisteanna (59)

Noel Rock

Ceist:

59. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Finance the status of plans to identify immediate and long-term measures to address the increasing cost of employer and public liability insurance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4742/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation. Neither I nor the Central Bank of Ireland can interfere in the provision or pricing of insurance products, as these matters are of a commercial nature, and are determined by insurance companies based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance which expressly prohibits Member States from adopting rules which require insurance companies to obtain prior approval of the pricing or terms and conditions of insurance products. Consequently, I am not in a position to direct insurance companies as to the pricing level or terms or conditions that they should apply in respect of particular types of insurance.

Nevertheless, it is possible for the State to play a role in helping to stabilise the market and deal with factors contributing to the availability and cost of insurance. What was recognised with the establishment of the Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG) was that the environment within which insurers conduct their business can be better shaped, in order to make the Irish insurance market a more competitive one and also make it more attractive for new entrants. Building upon the work undertaken in the completion of the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance, the second phase of the CIWG culminated in the publication of the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance in January 2018.

This Report makes 15 recommendations with 29 associated actions to be carried out, set out in an Action Plan with agreed timelines for implementation.

The recommendations, covering three main themes, include actions to:

- Increase Transparency: enhance levels of transparency and improve data sharing and collection processes,

- Review the level of damages in personal injury cases: request that the Law Reform Commission undertake a detailed analysis of the possibility of developing constitutionally sound legislation to delimit or cap the amounts of damages which a court may award in respect of some or all categories of personal injuries, and

- Improve the personal injuries litigation framework: through a number of measures, namely:

a. ensuring potential defendants are notified in sufficient time that an incident has occurred in relation to which a claim is going to be made against their policy;

b. tackling fraudulent or exaggerated claims; and

c. ensuring suitable training and information supports are available to the judiciary to assist in the fair and consistent assessment and awarding of damages in personal injury cases.

There is a commitment within the Report that the Working Group will prepare updates on its progress. The most recent such update was published in November 2018 and shows that of the 19 actions from the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance with deadlines up to and including Q3 2018, 18 have been completed. It is envisaged that the next Progress Update will be completed by the end of February. Both of the primary Reports and all of the quarterly updates are available on the Department’s website, within “The Cost of Insurance Working Group” sub-section of the main “Insurance” section.

Finally, I would like to assure the Deputy that the CIWG will continue to focus on implementing the recommendations of the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance in parallel with implementing those from the Motor Report. I am hopeful that the cumulative effects of the completion of the two Reports’ recommendations will include increased stability in the pricing of insurance for businesses and a more competitive insurance market.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (60)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

60. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance if consideration has been given to providing a limited capital allowance scheme in designated areas to build residential accommodation for the rental market; if further consideration has been given to allow the VAT on construction costs to be reclaimed with a view to reducing the price for potential renters and purchasers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4750/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I can advise the Deputy that there is already a capital allowance scheme available to lessors of residential accommodation. The scheme, the Living City Initiative, was extended by Finance Act 2016 to allow capital allowances to be claimed by lessors of residential property on conversion or refurbishment expenditure incurred on property situated in a special regeneration area. The areas coming within the scheme are designated areas within the cities of Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford and Kilkenny. Expenditure must be incurred in the qualifying period which at present runs from 1 January 2017 to 4 May 2020. The main features of the scheme are as follows:

- The property being converted or refurbished must have been built prior to 1915,

- The property must be located within a special regeneration area,

- Expenditure of at least €5,000 must be incurred,

- A letter of certification must be obtained from the relevant local authority, and

- After refurbishment/conversion the property must be let on bona fide commercial terms.

Further information on the scheme is available on the Revenue website www.revenue.ie.

Under the VAT Consolidation Act, VAT recovery is available on costs that are incurred in connection with a taxable supply. The sale of residential property by the person who developed it in the course of a property development business (i.e. a property developer who developed the property for sale) is always subject to VAT and a person engaged in such development activity is entitled to recover the VAT on construction costs.

In contrast, the letting of residential property is exempt from VAT. Where a person incurs VAT on construction costs of a residential property developed for letting and lets that property upon completion, the person is not entitled to recover the VAT on construction costs nor will they be liable for VAT on the rental income. Under the VAT Directive, there are no provisions that would permit VAT recovery in these circumstances, nor is there provision for VAT deductibility for persons that are not registered for VAT.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (61)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

61. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the status of the analysis of the impact of the increase in betting tax to date; when a report will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4770/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The increase in the betting duty rate from 1 per cent to 2 per cent, and the betting intermediary duty rate from 15% to 25%, came into effect on 1 January 2019. It is too early to draw any conclusions on the impact of these increases.

Receipts from betting duty represented less than 1 per cent of all excise receipts in 2017 and this is also likely to be the case in for 2018. In addition, unlike other excisable commodities, there is no VAT applied on betting transactions. I have outlined why I consider the betting sector needs to make a fair contribution to the Exchequer.

In any discussion on betting duty, we must acknowledge the raised public consciousness of the problem of gambling in society. While problem gambling can result in the problem gambler, and their family, bearing the severest of economic and of course personal costs, the social costs of problem gambling can extend to their employers and to public institutions in the health, welfare and justice systems, such costs ultimately borne by taxpayers. I have outlined my view that this needs to be better reflected within the betting duty regime.

During the course of the Finance Bill process I agreed to review an alternative proposal put forward by the betting sector following the announcement of increases in betting duty in Budget 2019, and I acknowledge that small independent bookmakers may have difficulty competing with larger bookmakers with retail and/or online operations. My officials are currently considering this proposal, including the compatibility of a core element with EU rules, and will set out analysis and options in relation to betting duty at the Tax Strategy Group (TSG) meeting in July. The TSG Papers will be published on the Department's website shortly afterwards.

Insurance Data

Ceisteanna (62)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

62. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the payments made by motor insurers in each of the past five years by type of claims, that is, third party, comprehensive and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4780/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

At the outset, it is important to note that as Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation. Neither my Department nor the Central Bank of Ireland collect the type of information being sought by the Deputy on a routine basis. However, the Deputy will note that in line with Recommendation 12 of the Cost of Insurance Working Group’s Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance, my Department has published Key Information Reports relating to Motor Insurance. In advance of the establishment of the National Claims Information Database, these reports endeavour to provide some information on key aggregated metrics in relation to motor insurance and may contain some information relevant to the Deputy’s request. The most recent of these reports was published in May 2018 and provides some information and data on claims costs trends, including third party injury costs and non-injury in Parts 2 to 4, between 2011 and 2016 – see attached link: https://www.finance.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/second-motor-insurancekey-info-report-may-2018.pdf.

In addition, the Deputy will be aware that the Oireachtas recently passed the legislation to provide relevant powers to the Central Bank of Ireland to establish the National Claims Information Database. The Deputy may like to note that the Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Act 2018 was commenced by the Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Act 2018 (Commencement) Order 2019 (S.I. 2 of 2019) on Monday 28 January 2019. The Central Bank plans to collect claims data for the National Claims Information Database from insurance undertakings in the first half of 2019, with a view to publishing its first annual report under the legislation in the second half of this year.

With regard to the type of data requested by the Deputy, it is expected that the Central Bank will collect and publish claims information in respect of the last 10 years, including the number of claims reported and settled, the amounts paid on claims, the incurred cost on claims (i.e. the amount paid plus the outstanding amount to be paid, if any), and the actuarial estimate of the final cost of claims i.e. ultimate costs. This data will be submitted for each type of claim, i.e. Third Party Injury, Third Party Damage, Accidental/Own Damage, Fire & Theft, and Windscreen. This historic data will enable trends in average cost per claim, average claims cost per type of policy, and claims frequency to be analysed by both type of claim and type of policy.

Central Bank of Ireland Transactions

Questions Nos. 64 to 66, inclusive, answered with Question No. 58.

Ceisteanna (63)

Martin Kenny

Ceist:

63. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Finance the reason the Central Bank has ceased selling collector coin sets over the counter; if same is sold over the Internet; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4805/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am informed by the Central Bank that it conducted a review of over-the-counter services in 2016, including over-the-counter sales of a wide range of commemorative coins. The review, which included an analysis of customer demand and volume of coins sold, identified very low usage of the service by members of the public.

The Central Bank introduced an online sales platform for collector coin products (www.collectorcoins.ie) in 2017 to make coin purchases more convenient for customers. The online sales system has now been operational for almost two years and the Central Bank informs me that it has proven popular with the public. Following the introduction of the online sales system, the Central Bank decided to withdraw the over-the-counter service.

Questions Nos. 64 to 66, inclusive, answered with Question No. 58.

Tax Code

Question No. 68 answered with Question No. 58.

Ceisteanna (67)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

67. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if the flat rate expenses regime already identified as not meeting the required criteria under the Revenue Commissioners review of such schemes is to be further reviewed; if not, if they are scheduled to cease on 1 January 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4846/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that they do not intend to further review the flat rate expense categories already identified as not meeting the statutory requirement for tax deduction, as set out in Section 114 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.

The Deputy will be aware from my previous replies on this matter that Revenue confirmed an implementation date of 1 January 2020 in respect of any changes that may be made to the flat rate regime, to ensure they do not impact on any specific group earlier than the rest. Revenue have confirmed this position is unchanged.

Question No. 68 answered with Question No. 58.

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (69)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

69. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when he expects to introduce the investment limited partnership and Irish collective asset-management vehicle (amendment) Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4895/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As evidenced in the IFS2020 Action Plan, the Government is committed to developing our Investment Limited Partnership Act 1994 to make the structure more attractive to fund managers. Due to changes in the global private equity market, in both structure and relevant European legislation, a case has been made to update the 1994 Act.

As a result, I sought and obtained approval from the Government for the preparation of the necessary "Heads" for legislation in 2017. This is a complex policy matter and the draft legislation is currently being prepared. My officials are working with the draftsman and other stakeholders to arrive at a Bill which would be suitable for publication. The Bill is a priority on the Government's legislative programme and, subject to other Government priorities, the intention is for the Bill to be published shortly.

Property Tax Assessments

Ceisteanna (70)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

70. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the amount of property tax due in respect of the former home of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4933/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Local Property Tax (LPT) is a self-assessed tax and residential property owners are obliged to determine the market value for their properties as at 1 May 2013, file an LPT Return, calculate the relevant LPT liabilities, and make payment arrangements each year for the tax due.

I am advised by Revenue that according to its records the person mentioned by the Deputy is the registered owner of the property in question and is liable to pay LPT for the years 2013 to 2019 (inclusive). Revenue has also confirmed that an LPT Return has not been filed and payments have not been made in respect of the property. The total LPT liability outstanding for 2013 to 2019 is €2,571. However, this figure is based on the Revenue estimate made in the absence of a Return and may change once it (the Return) is filed. This figure also excludes statutory interest of 8% per annum.

Revenue has also advised me that the person has failed to engage on the issue and has not responded to any notifications issued. Notwithstanding this, Revenue is still willing to engage with the person in preference to deploying debt collection sanctions. However, any engagement requires the person to immediately file the outstanding LPT Return so that the liability, including statutory interest, can be accurately quantified. Revenue has confirmed that it will make direct contact with the person to assist him in completing the Return and to outline the various payment options that are available to him. Revenue has also confirmed that the Household Charge (HHC) in respect of the property is paid.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (71)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

71. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of civil servants on the panel for a transfer from his Department and agencies under his remit; the length of time applicants have been on the list for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4754/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The following table outlines the number of staff in my Department and the bodies under its aegis that are currently on the list for the Civil Service Mobility Scheme.

Department / Agency

No. Staff on List

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

7

Office of Government Procurement

12

Office of Public Works

41

National Shared Services Office

234

Public Appointments Service

12

Office of the Ombudsman

4

State Lab

4

National Lottery Regulator

0

ESRI

0

Institute of Public Administration

0

The overall Civil Service Mobility Scheme comes under the remit of my Department and is administered through the National Shared Service Office. It offers an opportunity for staff members to apply for mobility through an open and transparent system. The establishment of the scheme fulfils one of the requirements of Action 15 of the Civil Service Renewal Plan and Action 14 of the People Strategy for the Civil Service, which calls for the further expansion of a coherent mobility policy to facilitate staff development and strategic alignment with other HR policies.

Prior to the launch of the Mobility Scheme, there was no centralised system for transfers in operation in the Civil Service, so it is not possible to produce a report on transfer requests prior to the introduction of mobility.

The Mobility Scheme is being implemented on a phased basis. Phase 1A of the scheme is for the general Civil Service grades of Clerical Officer (CO) and Executive Officer (EO) to apply for mobility between and within 46 zones - excluding mobility within Zone 46 (Dublin) which will be included in Phase 1B.

Phase 1A opened for applications with effect from 13 November 2017, with the launch of the offer stage taking place on 10 September 2018. It is anticipated that Phase 1B of the scheme will launch in Q2 2019. Phase 2 of the scheme will include the general Civil Service grades of HEO, AO and AP. This phase will be developed following the launch of Phase 1B.

Further information on the Mobility Scheme is available to view at http://hr.per.gov.ie/civil-service-mobility/.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (72)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

72. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if funding will be provided to build a boat (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4823/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

This type of funding request is not a matter for my Department.

As the Deputy may be aware, Local Enterprise Offices are the first stop shop for business supports. I would also refer the Deputy to the online guide 'Supporting SMEs'. There are over 170 different Government supports for Irish start-ups and small business and this guide helps such businesses navigate the range of available support.

School Accommodation

Ceisteanna (73)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

73. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he is taking to address the capacity issue at a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4706/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that a project for the school in question is included on my Department's 6 Year Construction Programme. Officials from my Department have been in contact with the Patron of the school in order to progress the project.

I also wish to advise the Deputy that acquisition of a site at Loughshinny to facilitate the new school building is currently advancing. Department officials are working to complete this acquisition at the earliest possible date.