Thursday, 7 March 2019

Ceisteanna (122)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

122. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the amount sitting with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board; the purpose of the board holding those funds; if an assessment has been undertaken to ascertain if there is excess funds in the board and the possible options to use the funds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11409/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) is a self funding agency and does not receive Exchequer funding. PIAB generates a fee income from claimants (€45) and respondents, generally insurers, of €600.

When PIAB was established, it was faced with a number of legal cases challenging certain aspects of the legislation and the way in which PIAB operated. It was considered prudent that PIAB retain reserves to meet these challenges as the costs could be significant. The cases and the numerous linked cases were subsequently dismissed.

Following their audit of PIAB’s accounts in 2017, the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), recommended that my Department and PIAB agree an appropriate level of revenue reserves to be retained by PIAB and the basis for holding such a reserve. 

The C&AG also recommended the introduction of appropriate legislation to deal with excess funds held by PIAB (excess funds being those remaining when all operational, capital and contingency costs have been met). Legal advice obtained by my Department and independently by PIAB at that time was to the effect that legislative change was required to enable the Board to remit excess moneys to the Exchequer.

Section 13 of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019, which was signed into law by President Higgins on 25 February 2019 and is due to be commenced shortly, implements the recommendation from the C&AG.  Section 13 inserts a new subsection 74(a) into the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003, to provide that PIAB shall “remit to the Minister, for the benefit of the Exchequer, any moneys in excess of those authorised to be retained by the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. “

PIAB is independent in the exercise of its statutory functions and I am not permitted in my executive function to interfere in any way with the day to day operations and functions of PIAB. However, the Act provides that I, as Minister, will have regard to the operational, capital and contingency costs of PIAB when determining the sum to be retained.

Therefore, it is intended that PIAB will be permitted to retain sufficient funds to meet these costs.  Officials of my Department have met with PIAB on the matter of reserves and the Board of PIAB is currently engaged in formulating a proposal for a reserves policy to be agreed by myself and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

The cumulative reserve held by PIAB at September 2018 is €17.9M.