Tax Data

Question No. 192 answered with Question No. 188.

Ceisteanna (190, 191)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

190. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons who requested a P21 balancing statement from the Revenue Commissioners; the refunds issued to, and additional tax collected from, persons, respectively, as a result in each of the years 2010 to 2018, in tabular and aggregate form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30928/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

191. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if the Revenue Commissioners will automatically issue the refund due to a person in a situation in which a person would be entitled to a refund of tax overpaid in a calendar year but does not request a P21 balancing statement or put in a claim for an income tax refund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30929/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 190 and 191 together.

Regarding Question 30928-19, the following Table sets out the number of End of Year Statements (P21) that issued to PAYE taxpayers for the years 2010 to 2018. 

Tax Year

Total Issued

Value of Underpayments

Value of Overpayments

2010

1,073,269

112,362,206

431,694,623

2011

1,061,964

109,910,663

394,277,683

2012

1,072,789

94,338,124

414,924,792

2013

1,195,805

94,997,953

452,814,621

2014

1,249,281

93,096,365

435,823,238

2015

1,268,908

95,532,756

442,929,189

2016

1,157,251

144,908,919

455,118,798

2017

1,022,044

86,638,895

445,213,087

2018

684,617

97,242,451

354,661,317

 It is important to note that the ‘value of overpayments’ amounts in the Table include various tax reliefs such as health expenses and tax relief on nursing home fees. For example, in 2016, the most recent year for which complete data are currently available, 454,700 taxpayers received tax relief on health expenses at a cost to the Exchequer of €131 million and 6,800 taxpayers received tax relief on nursing home fees, at a cost of €33 million.

Regarding Question 30929-19, I am advised by Revenue that prior to the commencement of PAYE Modernisation on 1 January 2019 (2019 tax year onwards) the practice was that an End of Year Statement (P21) only issued on request from a taxpayer or where a taxpayer completed a Form 12 tax return. The approach ensured the taxpayer record was fully up to date prior to the P21 Statement being generated and avoided the possibility of an overpayment or underpayment being incorrectly reflected.

The commencement of PAYE Modernisation means that Revenue is now receiving real-time pay and statutory deductions information from employers/pension providers for their employees/pension recipients on or before each pay date. The availability of such real-time data will allow Revenue to automatically provide preliminary End of Year Statements to all employees/pension recipients each year, for example, the End of Year Statements in respect of 2019 will be available in early 2020.

The End of Year Statement will include the pay, tax and Universal Social Charge (USC) information for each employment/pension, as reported by the employer/pension provider, and will indicate if an over-deduction or under-deduction of tax and USC has occurred. The availability of the End of Year Statement will encourage taxpayers to claim any additional tax credits or reliefs, such as health expenses, or to declare any additional incomes, which can be done by completing a pre-populated Form 12 tax return. Once a taxpayer confirms that the End of Year Statement is correct, a P21 Statement will issue and any overpayments will be automatically refunded.

Revenue’s innovative use of real-time information to streamline and simplify the PAYE process ensures that taxpayer records are fully up to-date and all employments, pensions, incomes, credits and entitlements accounted for before a final review is conducted and a P21 issued. It is hoped this simplified facility will encourage taxpayers to claim their entitlements and ensure as far as possible, that they pay the right amount of tax at the right time.

Finally, I commend Revenue for the very significant improvements it has made to the PAYE system and the efforts it has made to simplify the tax system for citizens. 

Question No. 192 answered with Question No. 188.

Central Bank of Ireland Investigations

Ceisteanna (193)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

193. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the enforcement investigations being undertaken by the Central Bank in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30975/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by the Central Bank that it does not publish details of ongoing enforcement investigations. 

However, as part of the Tracker Mortgage Examination (https://www.centralbank.ie/consumer-hub/tracker-mortgage-examination), the Bank confirmed that in parallel with its supervisory work, enforcement proceedings commenced against six lenders: permanent tsb plc; Ulster Bank Ireland DAC; Bank of Ireland Group (The Governor and Company of Bank of Ireland and the Bank of Ireland Mortgage Bank trading as Bank of Ireland Mortgages); KBC Bank Ireland plc; Allied Irish Banks, plc; and EBS DAC.

On 30 May 2019, the Central Bank fined permanent tsb plc €21,000,000 in respect of serious failings to 2,007 tracker mortgage customer accounts. This marked the completion of the first in a series of ongoing industry investigations arising from the the Tracker Mortgage Examination.

In addition, the Central Bank publishes all settlement agreements under the Administration Sanctions Procedures on its website, these details are available at the following link:

https://www.centralbank.ie/news-media/legal-notices/settlement-agreements

Financial Services Sector

Ceisteanna (194)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

194. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of financial services firms by category, such as insurance, credit card, mortgage providers and SME lenders selling business in the market here to end consumers, who are prudentially regulated in the UK and rely on the freedom of movement of services across the EU to sell here; the relevant quantum of financial activity involved for each category using the latest estimates; if there are risks for consumers here in the event of a hard Brexit in this context; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30976/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I regret it was not possible to provide the information sought in the time available and, therefore, I will make arrangements to provide the information to the Deputy in line with Standing Orders.

Tax Code

Question No. 196 answered with Question No. 159.

Ceisteanna (195)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

195. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the review of betting duty; when he expects it to be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30977/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As I have stated in response to previous questions on the subject, my officials 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. 

Question No. 196 answered with Question No. 159.

Tax Reliefs Data

Ceisteanna (197)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

197. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons claiming tax relief on third level tuition fees; the cost of the relief in each complete tax year since 2015 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31011/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the latest information on the number of taxpayer units benefiting from relief in respect of qualifying third level education fees, as well as the estimated total cost to the Exchequer can be found at https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/tax-expenditures/costs-expenditures.aspx.  The most recent year for which data are presently available is 2016, it is expected that 2017 will be available in the coming weeks at the same link.

The (rounded) Exchequer costs and the numbers of claimants are set out in the following table.

 

Cost

€m

Claimants

2016

13.9

 26,000

2015

12.9

 23,900

Tax Collection

Question No. 199 answered with Question No. 159.

Ceisteanna (198)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

198. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Cork is being taxed correctly. [31027/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that it recently carried out a comprehensive review of the person’s tax situation and calculated that they overpaid their liabilities in 2019 (year to date) and in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The over payments occurred due to the incorrect allocation of tax credit entitlements.

Revenue has amended the person’s tax records for 2019 to reflect their correct entitlements and refunds for this year will issue via their employer. Revenue has also issued balancing statements in respect of the previous years and any refunds will issue directly in the coming days.

Question No. 199 answered with Question No. 159.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (200, 201)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

200. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Finance the number of capital projects being undertaken by his Department; the final agreed tender price; the estimated cost of each capital project in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31075/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

201. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Finance the capital projects completed since 2010; the final agreed tender price for each project; the actual cost of each project; if the actual cost exceeded the tender price; the reason therefor in each case in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31091/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 200 and 201 together.

My Department’s capital allocation provides for the routine acquisition of IT equipment and systems and certain premises expenses relating to the buildings it occupies. Aside from these types of expenditure, my Department does not have any long or medium term capital projects.

The Department in recent years has engaged the Office of Public Works (OPW) to carry out a number of capital projects on the premises it occupies. The OPW would have had to engage outside contractors to carry out the associated works. The Department of Finance paid certain costs related to these works during the period in question which is contained in the following table.

Year

Amount Spent on Capital Works

2015

848,509

2016

1,666,399

2017

98,093

2018

761,951

2019 YTD

28,474

Brexit Preparations

Ceisteanna (202)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

202. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance his views on a recommendation in a report (details supplied). [31126/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As part of the contingency measures taken by the Government for a 'no deal' Brexit, I announced the introduction of a system of postponed accounting for VAT purposes to alleviate the cash flow burden on business. The Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Act 2019 Act provides for the introduction of postponed accounting for VAT registered traders importing goods from non-EU countries, which will be implemented if the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement. The Act has been enacted and remains subject to commencement, until it is clear that the UK are exiting without an agreement.               

Under the system of postponed accounting, importers will not pay import VAT at the point of entry, instead, importers will account for import VAT through their bi-monthly VAT return.  The VAT will therefore be reclaimed at the same time as it is declared in the VAT return. 

In a 'no deal' scenario, postponed accounting will be introduced for all traders for a limited period to alleviate immediate cash flow issues. Following an initial period, at a time to be decided by the Minister for Finance, continued use of the postponed accounting system will depend on fulfilling criteria which will be set by the Revenue Commissioners.The system of postponed accounting will not be mandatory and those traders who wish to pay VAT at point of entry, may continue to do so.

In the event of a no deal exit, exports to the UK will continue to be zero rated.

Credit Unions

Ceisteanna (203)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

203. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance his policy on the financial industry funding levy and its impact on the credit union movement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31148/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As the Deputy is aware, credit unions are regulated and supervised by the Registrar of Credit Unions at the Central Bank who is the independent regulator for credit unions. Within his independent regulatory discretion, the Registrar acts to support the prudential soundness of individual credit unions, to maintain sector stability, and to protect the savings of credit union members.

Since 2004 the amount of the Industry Funding Levy payable by each credit union has been capped at a rate of 0.01% of total assets.

Consultation Paper 95 ‘Joint Public Consultation Paper - Department of Finance and the Central Bank of Ireland - Funding the Cost of Financial Regulation’ (CP95) was published in 2015 and set out proposals to move from partial industry funding of financial regulation towards full industry funding, noting the proposal set out in an earlier consultation conducted by the Central Bank (CP61 ‘Consultation on Impact Based Levies and Other Levy Related Matters’) to move credit unions to fund 50% of the cost of regulating the credit union sector. 

The Central Bank indicated, in its Funding Strategy and 2018 Guide to the Industry Funding Levy, that it intended to seek my approval to increase the proportion of financial regulation costs to be recovered from credit unions on a phased basis setting out an initial target of 50% to be reached by 2021.

In response to the Central Bank's request I recommended that credit union contributions should not increase beyond the 50% target until:

1. The levy trajectory has reached the planned 50% rate, at which time the impact on the viability of the sector will be better understood; and

2. A public consultation regarding increasing the levy rate for credit unions beyond 50% is undertaken, which would include a regulatory impact assessment of such a change on the sector.

In contrast to this, recovery rates in 2018 for all other industry categories ranged from 65% to 100%, and  the Central Bank intends to increase all to 100% funding over the next number of years.

The Deputy might also wish to note that the Department of Finance, in collaboration with the Central Bank, has prepared a public consultation paper on potential changes to the Credit Institutions Resolution Fund Levy, which is expected to reduce materially from 2020. This consultation, which has been published on the Department of Finance website, is open to all persons and I would strongly encourage all stakeholders to submit feedback.

It is also important to note that as Minister for Finance I have reduced the Stabilisation Scheme Levy materially and that since 2017 no further levies have been charged by the Credit Union Restructuring Board (ReBo).

National Debt

Ceisteanna (204)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

204. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance the size of the national debt; and the amounts of interest paid on the debt for each year from 1994 to 2018 and to date 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31149/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As the Deputy will be aware, there are two measures of public debt – National Debt and General Government Debt. The National Treasury Management Agency has supplied me with the figures in the following table, which focuses on the former, showing National Debt in both gross and net terms from 1994 to date in 2019.

The table also shows the Exchequer cash and other assets which are deducted from the gross measure to calculate National (net) Debt. It also shows National Debt interest.

Year

Gross National Debt

€bn

Exchequer Cash & Assets

€bn

National Debt

€bn

National Debt

Interest

€bn

2019 (at end-Jun)

215.6

27.6

188.0

3.7 (Jan – Jun)

2018

205.3

17.6

187.7

5.8

2017

198.7

13.2

185.5

6.1

2016

196.7

11.1

185.6

6.7

2015

196.6

13.6

183.1

7.0

2014

197.1

14.8

182.3

7.5

2013

197.5

23.6

173.9

7.3

2012

161.5

23.9

137.6

5.7

2011

136.8

17.7

119.1

4.5

2010

109.6

16.2

93.4

3.5

2009

97.0

21.8

75.2

2.5

2008

72.5

22.1

50.4

1.5

2007

42.0

4.5

37.6

1.6

2006

39.5

3.6

35.9

1.9

2005

40.4

2.2

38.2

1.7

2004

39.9

2.1

37.8

1.7

2003

39.3

1.7

37.6

1.8

2002

38.1

1.8

36.4

1.7

2001

38.5

2.4

36.2

1.9

2000

39.0

2.5

36.5

2.1

1999

42.0

2.2

39.8

2.4

1998

39.4

1.9

37.5

2.7

1997

40.2

1.2

39.0

3.1

1996

39.0

1.0

38.0

2.8

1995

39.6

1.3

38.4

2.7

1994

38.2

1.1

37.1

2.7

Rounding may affect totals.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (205)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

205. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if he will report on proposals from the EU for an aviation fuel tax; the way in which this will impact on Irish rates and levels of excise duty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31150/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am not aware of any current EU proposals for an aviation fuel tax. As the Deputy will be aware the European Commission has the legislative right of initiative and in the normal course will be assessing where new legislation is in its view required and what form that legislation should take.   

I am aware that there is an increasing focus on aviation taxation, led by Member States like the Netherlands, and that the European Commission may include legislative proposals on aviation taxes in the future. I recognise the environmental and fiscal merits of the case being made for the application of aviation taxes and Ireland will engage constructively in any future negotiations on this issue.

Tobacco Smuggling

Ceisteanna (206)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

206. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons prosecuted for cigarette and-or tobacco smuggling in 2018 and to date in 2019; the additional resources and equipment being provided to the Revenue Commissioners to tackle the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31166/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the number of persons prosecuted for cigarette and tobacco smuggling in 2018 and to date in 2019 is set out in the following table. The number of persons prosecuted for illegal selling of unstamped cigarette and tobacco products is also included.

2018 - 2019 (YTD end June)

 

Indictable

Summary

Indictable

Summary

Smuggling

3

16

1

4

Selling   unstamped products

3

56

0

31

Total

6

72

1

35

Revenue currently has 20 Detector Dog teams trained to detect tobacco, drugs and cash. One of the dogs is trained in food detection and operates on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Revenue also has three mobile x-ray scanners, a ‘backscatter van’ scanner, and a specialist vehicle that contains both x-ray and radiation detection technology. All the scanners are mobile and can be deployed to smuggling detection operations at both frontier and non-frontier locations. The ‘backscatter van’ scanner is Revenue’s most recent acquisition, which was delivered in December 2018. In addition, Revenue deploys baggage and parcel scanners at ports, airports, mail-centres and other locations throughout the State as required.

Revenue has confirmed to me that it continually reviews its overall detection capability having regard to evolving risk, developments in technology and the obsolescence of existing equipment.

Excise Duties

Ceisteanna (207)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

207. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the estimated amount of excise duty that would apply on a pint of cider priced at €5.30, a pint of stout priced at €4.75 and a standard measure of spirits priced at €4.10; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31167/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The rates of excise (Alcohol Products Tax) for the various types of alcoholic beverages are provided for in Schedule 2 to the Finance Act 2003, as amended.  In each case, the applicable excise duty must conform with EU Directive 92/83/EEC on the harmonization of the structures of excise duties on alcohol and alcoholic beverages.   

The excise rate on cider exceeding 2.8% but not exceeding 6.0% alcohol by volume (ABV) is currently €94.46 per hectolitre of finished product, which equates to €0.54 per pint at 4.5% ABV. The excise on a pint of stout or other beer is currently €22.55 per hectolitre per cent of alcohol in the beer, which equates to €0.60 per pint of stout at 4.7% ABV.

Excise is calculated on spirits based on the amount of alcohol present in the product.  The excise rate on spirits is currently €42.57 per litre of alcohol in the spirits.  A standard measure of spirits is 35.5 millilitres and has an ABV of 40%, which equates to a rate of excise of €0.60 per measure.

The price charged at retail level for alcoholic beverages does not determine the amount of excise due.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (208)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

208. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance his plans to impose a tax of 23% on certain food supplements; if the introduction of VAT on such products will be delayed pending a planned review by the Tax Strategy Group. [31245/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

VAT legislation does not apply the zero rate of VAT to food supplements but shortly after the introduction of VAT Revenue applied a concessionary zero rating to certain vitamin, mineral and fish oil products.

As the market developed over the years this treatment resulted in the zero rating by Revenue of further similar products, including products other than vitamins, minerals and fish oils, and these rulings were published in Revenue’s VAT rates database. The evolution of the scope of the concessionary treatment of certain types of food supplements was well understood by the industry and by agents representing clients in the food supplements sector and has never been disputed by Revenue. Revenue has referenced the original scope of its zero rating concession but acknowledged that the scope had broadened progressively over time to the point that it had become increasingly difficult to maintain an effective distinction between food supplements that could benefit from the zero rate and those that were standard rated. After undertaking a comprehensive review of the VAT treatment of food supplements, including getting an expert report on the definition of food for the purposes of the VAT Consolidation Act, Revenue concluded that the status quo was no longer sustainable and engaged with my Department concerning policy options that might be considered in the context of Finance Bill 2018. The relevant legislation was not changed in Finance Bill 2018 and therefore Revenue issued new guidance in December 2018 which removed the concessionary zero rating of various food supplement products with effect from 1 March 2019. 

Following representation from Deputies and from the industry I wrote to Revenue outlining my plans to examine the policy and legislative options for the taxation of food supplement products in the context of Finance Bill 2019. Revenue responded by delaying the withdrawal of its concessionary zero rating of the food supplement products concerned until 1 November 2019. This will allow time for the enactment of any legislative changes in the context of Budget 2020.

My Department has recently concluded a public consultation on the taxation of food supplement products. The consultation sought input from a wide range of interested parties, including health and nutrition experts as well as my colleague the Minister for Health, to ensure that any legislative changes brought forward are evidence based. Officials in my department are considering the submissions received and a report was submitted to the Tax Strategy Group on 9th July. The TSG papers are due to be published on my Department's website by the end of July. 

Insurance Costs

Ceisteanna (209)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

209. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Finance his plans to implement further recommendations of the cost of insurance working group in view of the ongoing widespread concerns regarding escalating insurance costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31258/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

At the outset, the Deputy should note that 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 price or the level of cover to be provided either to consumers or businesses.

However, I acknowledge the general problems faced by many consumers, businesses, and community and voluntary groups, in relation to the cost and availability of insurance.  I also appreciate that there is some frustration about the perceived pace of reform.  Unfortunately, there is no single policy or legislative “silver bullet” to immediately stem or reverse premium price rises.  This is because there are many constraints faced by the Government in trying to address this issue in particular the fact that for constitutional reasons, it cannot direct the courts as to the award levels that should be applied and for legal reasons it cannot direct insurance companies as to the pricing level which they should apply in respect of businesses seeking insurance.

I wish to reemphasise how important this issue is for the Government.  As the Deputy is aware, the Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG) was established in July 2016 and undertook an examination of the factors contributing to the increasing cost of insurance in order to identify what short, medium and long-term measures could be introduced to help reduce the cost of insurance for consumers and businesses.  The Deputy will recall that the CIWG has produced two reports since its inception and has been working to implement the 33 recommendations of the Cost of Motor Insurance Report published in 2017, as well as the 15 Recommendations of the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance Report, published in 2018.  To that end, the key achievements to date from the two reports, including the following: 

- the passing of the Judicial Council Bill by the Oireachtas on 9 July in order to implement the  recommendations of the Personal Injuries Commission regarding award levels in this country, including a judicial recalibration of the existing Book of Quantum guidelines;

- the commencement by the Law Reform Commission (LRC) of its work to 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, as part of its Fifth Programme of Law Reform;

- the establishment of the National Claims Information Database in the Central Bank to increase transparency around the future cost of private motor insurance;

- reforms to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Act 2019;

- commencement of the amendments to Sections 8 and 14 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 to make it easier for businesses and insurers to challenge cases where fraud or exaggeration is suspected;

- the reform of the Insurance Compensation Fund to provide certainty to policyholders and insurers; and,

- various reforms of how fraud is reported to and dealt with by An Garda Síochána, including increased co-ordination with the insurance industry, as well as the recent decision by the Garda Commissioner to develop a divisional focus on insurance fraud which will be guided by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) which will also train Gardaí all over the country on investigating insurance fraud, and the recent success under Operation Coatee, which targets insurance-related criminality.  

I believe that these reforms are having a significant impact with regard to private motor insurance (CSO figures from May 2019 show that the price of motor insurance is now 24.5% lower than the July 2016 peak).  The Government is determined to continue working to ensure that these positive pricing trends can be extended to other forms of insurance, including those relevant to businesses.

Undoubtedly the single most essential challenge which must be overcome if there is to be a sustainable reduction in insurance costs particularly for small businesses is to bring the levels of personal injury damages awarded in this country more in line with those awarded in other jurisdictions.  In this regard, the Personal Injuries Commission has highlighted the significant differential between award levels in Ireland and other jurisdictions, and has made a number of recommendations to address this issue, in particular the establishment of a Judicial Council to compile guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury.  Minister of State D’Arcy and I have worked closely with the Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr Charlie Flanagan TD to progress the Bill through the Houses of the Oireachtas as a matter of priority.  I am therefore pleased that the Bill was passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas on 9 July, and I expect it will be signed into law by the President shortly.  

Now that the Bill has been passed, it will be a matter for the Judiciary to put in place the Judicial Council and to establish the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee.  While the Government cannot interfere in their deliberations, I would hope that the Judiciary will recognise the importance of this issue and prioritise it accordingly and will take account of the PIC’s benchmarking report.

Finally, I would like to assure the Deputy that the Cost of Insurance Working Group will continue to focus on implementing the remaining recommendations of the Report on the Cost of Employer and Public Liability Insurance in parallel with implementing those from the Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance and I expect to publish the Ninth Update Report by the Cost of Insurance Working Group in the coming weeks.  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.

Vehicle Registration Data

Ceisteanna (210, 211)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

210. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Finance the cost of the VRT rebate for electric cars in 2018; the estimated cost of extending the VRT rebate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31292/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

211. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Finance the cost of the VRT rebate for hybrid vehicles in 2018; the estimated cost of extending the VRT rebate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31293/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 210 and 211 together.

I am advised by Revenue that the cost of the Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) rebate for electric cars in 2018 is estimated at €9.2 million and the first six months of 2019 is estimated at €10m. If there is no change in the trend of registrations to date this year, the annual cost for extending the VRT rebate for electric cars would be in the region of €20m.

I am advised by Revenue that the cost of the VRT rebate for hybrid vehicles in 2018 is estimated at €18.7 million, and the first six months of 2019 is estimated at €16.4m. If there is no change in the trend of registrations to date this year, the annual cost for extending the VRT rebate for hybrid vehicles would be in the region of €33m.

Departmental Communications

Ceisteanna (212)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

212. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Finance the oversight of his Department of directives, circulars, advice or requirements issued since 2016; if surveys have been carried out of compliance with these communications to date; the surveys carried out; the results of the surveys; the compliance rate; the actions taken by his Department following these results; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31325/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Department monitors compliance with its relevant legislative, regulatory and internal procedural obligations under its Compliance Framework.  These obligations are set out in various registers including a Compliance Obligations Register which is managed and monitored by the Department’s Compliance Officer.

Compliance obligation deadlines are monitored on a regular basis and issues requiring attention are reported to the Executive Board and/or the Minister for Finance as necessary. 

The Department’s Registers are an important control measure to help identify accurate and up to date compliance obligations and is used to support the development and documentation of appropriate controls and procedures to ensure ongoing compliance with the Department’s obligations.

Climate Change Policy

Ceisteanna (213)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

213. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Finance the recurring weekly meetings attended by either him or the Secretary General of his Department in 2019 at which climate change and-or preparations within his Department to enact a climate plan has been an agenda item; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31341/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As Deputies will be aware, in November of 2018 the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment received a mandate from Government to prepare a climate plan which would make Ireland a leader in tackling climate change. Following this, the Government's Climate Action Plan 2019 was published on 17 June, and it outlines an ambitious course of action, setting out how Ireland can reach its 2030 targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also to put Ireland on the right trajectory towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Plan represents a significant step-up in ambition, and with a strong focus on implementation the Plan contains over 180 actions, assigning clear timelines and steps to support delivery. The Department of Finance has been assigned lead responsibility for a number of actions, primarily in the area of environmental taxation reform, with a number of measures to be examined as part of Budget 2020.

 In preparation of the Plan, officials from my Department have participated in the various cross-Government teams established to undertake analysis of areas of substantial mitigation and adaptation potential, and which have supported the development of the Plan’s actions.  Additionally, during the Plan’s development, progress was considered at two meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure at which I attended, and at three meetings of the relevant Senior Officials Group which were attended by Department of Finance officials. Furthermore, updates on the Plan’s progression have been routinely discussed at the Department’s Executive Board and Senior Management Group meetings. As Minister for Finance, I am kept up to date on progress in relation to development of  climate initiatives. 

European Fund for Strategic Investments

Ceisteanna (214)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

214. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the projects here that have benefitted to date from the European Fund for Strategic Investments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31355/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Since the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI)'s enactment in July 2015, it has been possible for any project promoter, either public or private, to engage with the EIB regarding the possibility of receiving loans or guarantees under EFSI for particular projects.

In this way, EFSI is providing an important additional funding possibility to the State alongside other possibilities such as the EIB's normal lending, the State's borrowings through the NTMA and other mechanisms such as PPPs and off-balance sheet vehicles. It should be remembered that each EFSI loan entered into by the State pre-commits funding for the repayment of such loans, and has to be considered in the context of the expenditure benchmark under the EU's fiscal rules.

In general, Government Departments have existing relationships with the EIB so it has been a matter for each Department concerned to advance the projects in coordination with the Government's Capital Plan as coordinated by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The Department of Finance has no role in assessing projects either public or private which may be the subject of applications for EFSI loans/guarantees.

I can inform the Deputy that there is a publicly available list of projects which have been approved for EFSI support by the EIB in the State (https://www.eib.org/en/efsi/efsi-projects/index.htm?c=IE&se=). I have attached a spreadsheet containing lists of signed, approved and pre-approved projects for your convenience.

According to the above mentioned website, there have been 33 transactions covering €1.5bn of approved EFSI financing and €7.1bn expected investment related to EFSI in Ireland since inception. I would ask the Deputy to be aware, however, that the Irish list contains both private and public sector projects, and it also includes cross-border projects between Irish entities and entities in other Member States. On the other hand, the list may not reflect Irish private sector project promoters participating in a project that could receive funding from EFSI loans/guarantees but which is led or based in another EU Member State.

EFSI