Economic Policy

Ceisteanna (120, 121)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

120. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance if he and his officials discussed the recent report from a body (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46164/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

121. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Finance his views on the warnings by a person (details supplied) regarding GDP data for Ireland that concluded that such are the distortions in tech profits, the proposed OECD BEPS tax reforms do not go far enough to address the anomalies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46165/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 120 and 121 together.

I understand that the Deputy is referring to the blog article by Mr Brad Setser, which was published on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Ireland is a small country and large transactions by multinational enterprises can have a disproportionate impact on our statistics when compared to the effect of transactions of a similar magnitude would have in a larger economy.

Indeed, it has been widely acknowledged that economic activity in Ireland tends to be over-estimated by GDP. For this reason, an alternative measure known as modified GNI (GNI*) has been developed by the CSO, which excludes the globalisation effects that can distort measurements of Irish output. These effects relate to the imports of R&D, trade in intellectual property, net factor income of re-domiciled multinational enterprises and features of the aircraft leasing sector.

It is important to acknowledge that the OECD BEPS process has achieved much in curtailing aggressive tax planning. However, as mentioned by Mr Setser, this very success has been a factor in encouraging companies to move assets out of zero tax jurisdictions to places, such as Ireland, where they have real substantive operations, and this has contributed to some of the distortions in our national accounts.

While much has been achieved, I recognise that further change to the international tax framework is necessary to ensure that we reach a stable global consensus for how and where companies should be taxed.

My officials and I continue to engage positively in the discussions at the OECD, and I remain open to solutions which respect our right to compete fairly and which respect the legitimacy of Ireland’s longstanding 12.5% corporate tax rate.

Universal Social Charge Application

Ceisteanna (122)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

122. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance if the quarter of the percentage point reduction in USC as agreed in budget 2018 applies to a person (details supplied). [46246/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Section 531AN of the Taxes Consolidation Act (TCA) 1997 provides for a reduced Universal Social Charge (USC) rate of 2% on all income above €12,012, where a person’s total income in a year does not exceed €60,000 and where the person is aged 70 or over or holds a full medical card. A rate of 0.5% on the first €12,012 of income applies to all taxpayers.

I am advised by Revenue that in 2018, the person concerned was over 70 with total income of less than €60,000. Therefore, the USC rate that applied to the first €12,012 of income was 0.5%, and the 2% rate applied to the remainder. The one quarter percent reduction in the higher USC rate (from 5% to 4.75%) for the year 2018 was not relevant to the person because it was not applicable to any portion of his income.

Revenue has also confirmed that it has carried out a full review of the person’s USC payments for all years from 2015 to 2019 (to date) and is satisfied that the correct (reduced) USC rates were applied.

Tax Reliefs Eligibility

Ceisteanna (123)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

123. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) will be awarded favourite nephew or niece tax relief on appeal. [46247/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

To qualify for the favourite niece/nephew relief, which only applies to assets used in a business, the person must be a child of the disponer’s brother or sister. The person must also have worked for him (the disponer) for the five years immediately before receiving the gift or inheritance, for either 15 hours per week in a small business (run by the disponer and spouse or civil partner), or for 24 hours per week in a larger business (where there are other employees).

I am advised by Revenue that a Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) return was recently received. Revenue has confirmed to me that it cannot determine if the person is entitled to the favourite niece/nephew relief from the information available. To clarify matters the person should contact Revenue at telephone number 042-935 3410.

Departmental Offices

Ceisteanna (124)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

124. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the number of vacant desk spaces available in accommodation allocated to his Department in Civil Service accommodation outside Dublin city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46294/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

In response to the Deputy’s question; OPW provides accommodation for Government Services and manages a significant proportion of the State’s property portfolio. Outside of Dublin City, the Department of Finance has a staff cohort located in Government Buildings, Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

There are currently 48 vacant spaces in the Department of Finance’s accommodation allocation in the Tullamore Office. The vacancy rate primarily relates to (a) Departmental staff migration to the National Shared Services Office (NSSO) which became a separate civil service office on foot of legislation enacted on 1 January 2018, and (b) normal staff mobility flows by way of transfers, promotions and retirements.

All office facility allocations provided for staff working in the Department of Finance are actively managed by the Office of Public Works, which is a Body under the aegis of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. It is planned that 45 of these 48 (currently vacant) desk spaces will be in use, in a matter of weeks, by the Department of Education.

Tax Code

Ceisteanna (125)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

125. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that farmers who operate as a company are significantly better off with regard to tax in comparison to farmers who operate as sole traders; the details of the loss to the Exchequer as a result of farmers opting for the company model rather than the sole trader model; and his views on whether a level playing field with regard to taxation should exist in the agriculture sector. [46363/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

In addressing the Deputy's specific question on the tax treatment of self-employed individuals carrying on a trade (including the trade of farming), as compared to companies carrying on a trade, it should be noted that self-employed individuals or those are taxed on their profits in much the same way as companies are.

An individual engaged in a trade is taxed on the net income of the trade, whether the person is a company or an individual sole trader. In computing net income, expenses which are wholly and exclusively incurred for the purposes of the trade are deductible for tax purposes. Capital expenditure incurred on the acquisition of certain assets for use in the trade (e.g. plant and machinery) qualify for capital allowances.

In relation to farming, there are a number of tax reliefs available to farmers, whether operating as sole traders or companies. These include allowances for capital expenditure on the construction of farm buildings and stock relief (an income tax relief given in respect of increases in the value of farm trading stock).

In relation to tax rates, a self-employed individual carrying on a trade is chargeable to income tax at his/her marginal rate on the net income arising to him/her from that trade. If a self-employed individual chooses to transfer his/her farm business to a company, the company will be chargeable to corporation tax at 12.5% on the net income arising from the trade. When the company remunerates individual employees (including the former sole trader) for work carried out, it will be required to deduct income tax from those payments at the marginal rate of each employee through the PAYE/PRSI collection system.

When the company makes any dividend payments or transfers any other assets to its shareholders, it will be required to withhold Dividend Withholding Tax from the payments. Individual shareholders, including the formerly self-employed individual, will be chargeable to income tax at their marginal rate on the value of the assets transferred.

Revenue have advised me that there are 4,400 Corporation Tax registered cases under the agricultural heading on their database. Based on the Revenue database and other sources, they further advise me that there are over 146,000 Income Tax registered agricultural cases.

The decision as to whether to incorporate a business is a matter for the individual taxpayer; the potential taxation implications feature amongst a number of other considerations, including the following:

- Limited liability- In limited liability companies, the liability of shareholders is limited to the amount of share capital they contribute to the company.

- A company is a separate legal entity from those who own it- a company may hold its own property and be liable for its own debts.

- A company may have more flexible borrowing powers than a sole trader.

- There may be a greater degree of business credibility of trading through a company.

- A company can raise finance by the issue of shares.

Tax Reliefs Data

Ceisteanna (126)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

126. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance the number of employers that have provided the small benefit exemption scheme to their employees in each of the years 2016 to 2018; the number of employees that have benefitted from the scheme in each year; the cost of providing this benefit in income tax, USC and PRSI forgone in each year; and the estimated cost of increasing the limit of the benefit over a calendar year up to amounts (details supplied) in tabular form. [46388/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Small Benefits Exemption provides that, in general, where an employer provides an employee/director with a small benefit (that is, a benefit with a value not exceeding €500), PAYE, USC and PSRI need not be applied to that benefit. This treatment does not apply to cash payments, which are taxable in full. The benefit can be used only to purchase goods or services and cannot be redeemed for cash. No more than one such benefit given to an employee in a tax year will qualify for such treatment. Where a benefit exceeds €500 in value the full value of the benefit is to be subjected to PAYE, USC and PRSI.

I am advised by Revenue that where an employee is in receipt of such a non-taxable benefit, the employer is not required to report the details to Revenue. Therefore, it is not possible to provide definitive numbers of employers and employees involved, the potential tax cost foregone or to estimate the cost of increasing the €500 annual limit. The Department included a tentative estimate for the purpose of the Budget 2020 Tax Expenditure Report.

Tax Reliefs Costs

Ceisteanna (127)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

127. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost of extending the coverage of the special assignee relief programme for new SME hires. [46395/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP) is available to employees of companies that are incorporated and tax resident in a country with which Ireland has a double taxation agreement or a Tax Information Exchange Agreement. Under existing legislation, the employee must have worked for the employer for a minimum of 6 months outside of Ireland immediately before being assigned to work in Ireland.

As part of the SARP review in 2014, the proposal to include employees that were newly employed from outside an organisation rather than restricting it to employees moving within an organization was considered. However, the review found that to include new hires in this manner could cause job displacement in the Irish labour market. If, for example, an Irish tax resident individual and a foreign based individual with similar skills both applied for the same job, it would be less costly for the employer to hire the foreign based individual. This would place the Irish tax resident individual at a considerable disadvantage.

Revenue have informed me that it is not possible to provide the estimated cost for extending SARP (if the six month requirement was removed) because the potential extra uptake to the scheme or the wage levels of the extra employees involved is unknown.

Living City Initiative

Ceisteanna (128)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

128. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider extending the city living initiative to Waterford city. [46412/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I assume that the Deputy is referring to The Living City Initiative (LCI). LCI has applied to Waterford city since its inception.

LCI is a scheme of property based tax incentives aimed at the regeneration of certain 'Special Regeneration Areas' (SRAs) in the historic centres of Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford.

LCI was initially announced in Budget 2013 and commenced on 5th May 2015. It was due to terminate on 05 May 2020 in accordance with the sunset clause contained within the legislation. However, under Finance Bill 2019, it is proposed to extend the measure until 31 December 2022.

Tax Compliance

Ceisteanna (129)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

129. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance his views on the assessment of his predecessor that tax evasion in the poultry industry gave a competitive advantage to those who used it rather than those who did not; the changes made in the sector since the statement was made; his further views on whether the practice might still exist in the poultry and beef sectors; if an investigation has been carried out on whether the practice still exists in the poultry and livestock sectors; and if so, if the loss resulting from the loophole has been identified. [46421/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the business models and contractual arrangements in the poultry sector created the conditions for the generation of a systematic excess of flat-rate addition payments to farmers in the sector over their VAT input costs. This business model did not breach Irish VAT law at the time and did not constitute fraud or tax evasion. My predecessor introduced a provision in Finance Act 2016 to enable the exclusion of an agricultural sector from the flat-rate scheme where the Minister is satisfied that, because of the business structures, contractual arrangements or models in place, the application of the flat-rate addition within that sector has resulted in, and would otherwise continue to result in, a systematic excess of flat-rate addition payments over input costs incurred by flat-rate farmers in that sector.

Following the introduction of Section 86A of the VAT Consolidation Act 2010, Revenue undertook a detailed examination on the operation of the flat-rate addition scheme in the poultry sector and submitted a report to my Department which is currently under consideration.

To date, Revenue has not established that similar business models and contractual arrangements exist or are common in any other agricultural sector. I will however continue to monitor the beef sector and other agricultural sectors to ensure that the flat-rate addition scheme does not operate to give rise to overcompensation of farmers at the aggregate level for VAT on input costs.

If the Deputy has information of particular contractual arrangements in the beef sector that could give rise to a systematic excess of flat-rate addition payments to farmers, it should be passed on to Revenue.

Freedom of Information Data

Ceisteanna (130)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

130. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Finance when the disclosures log made by his Department under freedom of information was last updated; if this is in line with the disclosure policy of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46468/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

In line with the Department of Finance Freedom of Information Publication Scheme, my Department routinely publishes the details and outcome of Freedom of Information requests on its website, www.gov.ie/en/organisation/department-of-finance.

The most recent publication was on 4th October 2019, and is reflective of requests processed in Q3 2019.

Tax Reliefs Eligibility

Ceisteanna (131)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

131. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance the reason a claim for rent relief for a person (details supplied) cannot be approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46501/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Section 473 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for a tax credit in respect of rent paid by an individual for private rented accommodation used as a sole or main residence. This includes rent paid for a flat, an apartment or a house. The tax credit is only applicable for years prior to 2018 and the qualifying criteria requires that a person was paying for private rented accommodation on or before 7 December 2010.

Revenue have advised me that they have already set out the qualifying conditions for the tax credit to the person in question, but they have not yet received any confirmation that the individual was paying for private rented accommodation at the required time- i.e. on or before 7 December 2010.

If the individual is satisfied that he meets the qualifying criteria, he can apply for the credit in respect of the applicable years through the Revenue 'myAccount' online service at: www.ros.ie/myaccount-web/sign_in.html?execution=e3s1.

Further information relating to the Rent Tax Credit is available on the Revenue website at: www.revenue.ie/en/personal-tax-credits-reliefs-and-exemptions/land-and-property/rent-credit/index.aspx.

Flood Risk Insurance Cover Provision

Ceisteanna (132)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

132. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance the detail of his most recent meeting with insurance industry representatives regarding issues faced by potential home buyers in East Wall, Dublin 3, being refused home cover due to industry perceived flood risks; the measures he can take to ensure potential homeowners are treated fairly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46531/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am conscious of the difficulties that the absence or withdrawal of flood insurance cover can cause to homeowners and businesses, and that is one of the reasons the Government has been prioritising investment in flood defences over the last number of years.

However, you should be aware that provision of insurance is a commercial matter for insurance companies, which is based on a proper assessment of the risks they are willing to accept. This assessment will in many cases include insurers own presumptions based on their private modelling and research. Consequently, neither I as Minister for Finance nor the Central Bank of Ireland can interfere in the provision or pricing of insurance products or have the power to direct insurance companies to provide flood cover to specific individuals or businesses. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance (Solvency II Directive) which expressly prohibits Member States from doing so.

In May last year, the OPW completed the most extensive and comprehensive study on flood risk through the National Catchment-based Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme which identified the flooding risk to 300 communities. The Flood Risk Management Plans prepared under the CFRAM Programme identify 118 flood relief schemes in addition to the 35 flood relief projects that are already in design and development under the existing capital programme.

Current government policy in relation to increasing flood insurance coverage is focused on the development of a sustainable, planned and risk-based approach to managing flooding problems. This it believes should in turn lead to the increased availability of flood insurance. To achieve this aim there is a focus on:

- prioritising spending on flood relief measures by the Office of Public Works (OPW) and relevant local authorities,

- implementation of flood relief management plans by the OPW to implement flood relief schemes, and

- maintaining channels of communication between the OPW and the insurance industry, in order to reach a better understanding about the provision of flood cover in marginal areas.

This commitment is underpinned by a significant capital works investment programme to be delivered by the OPW and Local Authorities, and complemented by a Memorandum of Understanding between the OPW and Insurance Ireland, which provides for the exchange of data in relation to completed flood defence schemes.

The nature of this arrangement is that, overall, there has been an increase in the provision of flood insurance cover observed in areas protected by these schemes over the period 2015 to 2019, according to Insurance Ireland Flood Survey Results.

I have not discussed the issue of flooding in Dublin 3 directly with Insurance Ireland. However, my officials are in regular contact with both Insurance Ireland and the OPW regarding proposed and completed flood defence schemes around the country and how the levels of insurance cover might be improved in areas where flood defence works have been completed.

You should also note that I have been advised by the OPW that in relation to the schemes located in Dublin 3 (The Tolka - East Wall Scheme, the Tolka - Hawthorne Terrace Scheme, and elements of the Tolka - Richmond Road Scheme) that all have been built to the 1/100 year standard, and that information in relation to these schemes has been shared with Insurance Ireland under the Memorandum of Understanding.

Finally, you should be aware that a consumer can make a complaint to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman in relation to any dealings with a Financial Services or Insurance provider during which they feel they have been unfairly treated. In addition, individuals who are experiencing difficulty in obtaining flood insurance or believe that they are being treated unfairly may contact Insurance Ireland which operates a free Insurance Information Service for those who have queries, complaints or difficulties in relation to insurance ((01 676 1914 or feedback@insuranceireland.eu).

Illicit Trade in Tobacco

Ceisteanna (133)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

133. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance his views on the loss of earnings of retailers through the illegal importation and selling of tobacco products, which becomes more prevalent with duty increases on such products as was the case in budget 2020; and the way in which he can ensure that legitimate retailers are not undercut. [46532/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

There is a long-standing commitment by successive Governments to use taxation along with other measures as an instrument to discourage smoking, particularly amongst younger people. This policy has been broadly successful. The Government’s Healthy Ireland strategy has set a target that 5% of the population or less would be smokers by 2025. According to HSE figures, the rate of smoking in Ireland fell to 18% of the adult population as of June 2018, down from 28% in 2003.

High taxation levels create an incentive for tobacco smuggling but tackling this problem is a high priority for Revenue. An annual survey conducted by IPSOS MRBI in 2018 on behalf of Revenue and the HSE’s National Tobacco Control Office found that 13% of cigarettes consumed in the State were illicit. This compares to a survey estimate of 13% for 2017 and 10% for 2016. However, the 2018 estimate of 13% is reduced from the comparable estimate in 2011 of 15%.

Revenue has indicated to me that they use a range of measures deigned to identify and target those involved in the smuggling, supply or sale of illicit products, with a view to disrupting the supply chain, seizing the products and, where possible, prosecuting the persons involved. Revenue’s strategy involves developing and sharing intelligence on a national, EU and international basis, the use of analytics and detection technologies and ensuring the optimum deployment of resources on a risk-focused basis.

Revenue and An Garda Síochána work together on an ongoing basis in acting against tobacco crime, and both organisations cooperate closely with their Northern Ireland counterparts, in the framework of the North-South Joint Agency Task Force, to target the organised crime groups that are responsible for a large proportion of this form of criminality. In addition, Revenue works closely with the relevant authorities in other jurisdictions, the European Anti-Fraud office, Europol and other international organisations, including the World Customs Organisation, in the ongoing programmes of action at international level to combat tobacco crime.

Revenue’s extensive ongoing programme of work against the illegal tobacco trade has achieved a considerable level of success. During the period 2016 to end-August 2019, 157.8 million cigarettes and 7.826 tonnes of roll your own tobacco were seized. In addition, 104 tonnes of raw tobacco were seized when two illicit cigarette factories were discovered in Co. Louth in 2018 and 2019. There were 123 convictions for tobacco-related offences in the period from January 2018 to September 2019.

The Government has ensured through the Finance Acts over recent years that Revenue has the necessary statutory powers to tackle the illicit tobacco trade. I am satisfied that the current legislative framework provides an effective basis for this important work but I am open to considering any proposals for further changes that Revenue may bring forward in the future.

Tax Compliance

Ceisteanna (134)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

134. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will address a matter raised in correspondence by a person (details supplied) regarding a proposal for the Revenue Commissioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46596/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

In general, an accountable person who supplies taxable goods or services to another accountable person is obliged under VAT legislation to issue a VAT invoice which includes the VAT payable on the supply. However, where an accountable person supplies goods or services to an individual, who is not an accountable person for VAT purposes, there is no obligation to issue a VAT invoice to that person. A till receipt issued by a retailer is not governed by VAT legislation, therefore there is no requirement under VAT legislation to itemise the receipt to show the VAT payable on the purchase of goods or services. For further information in relation to the obligation to issue VAT invoices please see www.revenue.ie/en/vat/vat-records-invoices-and-credit-notes/invoices/who-must-issue-a-vat-invoice.aspx.

I am informed by Revenue that they are satisfied that the current requirements concerning the records to be retained by business and the details to be displayed on invoices and receipts strike the appropriate balance between the need for reliable and complete business records and the cost to business of generating and retaining those records and issuing invoices and receipts to customers. Revenue keeps these matters under continuous review and I will give careful consideration to any proposals they make for changes to the current regime.

Departmental Advertising Campaigns

Ceisteanna (135)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

135. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Finance the role his Department is playing in the winter ready campaign; the expenditure his Department will incur in this campaign; and the details of expenditure on external consultancy and advertising or communication. [46629/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Department of Finance is represented on the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning and fully supports the Be Winter-Ready campaign.

The 2019-20 campaign, jointly launched by a number of my Ministerial colleagues on 6th November, provides vital information and raises awareness about the particular challenges that winter can present and is a part of the ‘Whole of Government’ approach being taken annually to winter preparations. I note, in particular, that the emphasis this year is on explaining further and promoting the Met Éireann colour-coded weather warning system.

The Department of Finance has no direct role in the Be Winter-Ready campaigns but will provide support and assistance where required by any of the lead Departments or the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning.

There are, therefore, no expected expenditures by the Department of Finance for external consultancy and advertising or communication.

Tax Data

Ceisteanna (136)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

136. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance the estimated full-year cost if the income tax standard rate of €35,300 was increased to €36,350 for a single person and from €44,300 to €45,850 for a married one-earner couple; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46706/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The Revenue Ready Reckoner is available at the link www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/information-about-revenue/statistics/ready-reckoner/index.aspx.

Page 7 of this document shows the impact of increasing the income tax standard rate bands by various amounts for different categories of taxpayers.

Using the Ready Reckoner to estimate the increases requested by the Deputy on a straight-line basis, the estimated cost of increasing the single person income tax standard rate band by €1,050 from €35,300 to €36,350 would be approximately €95 million in a full year. The estimated cost of increasing the married-one earner income tax standard rate band by €1,550 from €44,300 to €45,850 would be approximately €49 million in a full year.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (137)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

137. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance the bilateral meetings he has had with his EU counterparts to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46707/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As part of my ongoing international engagements, I meet monthly with my EU counterparts at meetings of Eurogroup and the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN). I also meet regularly with colleagues on a bilateral basis whenever opportunities present themselves outside the Council format.

At the last monthly meeting of Eurogroup and ECOFIN on 7 and 8 November I met with my Belgian counterpart, Alexander De Croo, and my Slovakian counterpart, Ladislav Kamenicky. I also meet regularly with my colleagues from the so-called Hansa group: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands.

I hosted my French counterpart, Bruno Le Maire, in February 2019, and we also held a meeting in Brussels in May 2019. I also meet regularly with my UK counterpart, Chancellor Sajid Javid, hosting the Chancellor at Farmleigh House in September this year, and most recently meeting in October en marge of the IMF & World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington D.C. I look forward to meeting my German counterpart, Olaf Scholz, later this month.

In addition to these formal bilateral meetings, in the margins of Council meetings I also have informal contacts with my counterparts on a regular basis.

I intend to continue my dialogue with all of my Finance Minister counterparts in the period ahead, and I also look forward to early engagement with Commissioner-designate Gentiloni once he takes up office.

Details of my meetings to date in 2019 are set out in the table below.

Date

Location

Finance Minister of EU MS

21/01/2019

Brussels (Hansa Group Meeting)

Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Netherlands.

*The members of the Hansa group were also joined on this occasion by the Finance Ministers of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

12/02/2019

Brussels

France

26/02/2019

Dublin

France

27/02/2019

Phone call

Portugal

11/03/2019

Brussels (Hansa Group Meeting)

Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Sweden

14/03/2019

London

United Kingdom

05/04/2019

Bucharest

Portugal

05/04/2019

Bucharest

Sweden

06/04/2019

Bucharest

United Kingdom

16/05/2019

Brussels (Hansa Group Meeting)

Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Netherlands, Sweden

16/05/2019

Brussels

France

12/06/2019

Phone call

Portugal

13/06/2019

Luxembourg (Hansa Group Meeting)

Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Netherlands, Sweden

14/06/2019

Luxembourg

United Kingdom

06/08/2019

London

United Kingdom

13/09/2019

Helsinki

United Kingdom

19/09/2019

Dublin

United Kingdom

09/10/2019

Luxembourg (Hansa Group Meeting)

Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Netherlands, Sweden

17/10/2019

Washington (at IMF)

United Kingdom

08/11/2019

Brussels

Belgium, Slovakia

Office of Public Works Projects

Ceisteanna (138)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

138. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the progress on the restoration work to the Magazine Fort site in the Phoenix Park; the timetable for the commencement and completion of the restoration work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46010/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Office of Public Works has been engaged in an ongoing programme of conservation works at the Magazine Fort since 2010. With the contribution of a team of consultants including archaeologists and structural engineers, the reopening of the Fort to the public on a limited basis, to coincide with the centenary of the 1916 Rising, was realised. Further works of restoration are in planning. However it is not possible at this point to give a precise timetable for commencement and completion.

Office of Public Works Projects

Ceisteanna (139)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

139. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the timetable for the appointment of a contractor to construct the proposed pedestrian and cycle bridge over the River Liffey to the War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46011/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Following an international architectural design competition, the Office of Public Works, in conjunction with The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI), announced in May 2019 a winning design concept for a new Commemorative Bridge at Irish National War Memorial Gardens, Islandbridge, Dublin. Elements of the design, by Ian Ritchie Architects, are currently being examined in detail as to cost and feasibility. Once this process is completed, OPW will likely submit an application for planning permission to Dublin City Council. Thereafter, should planning permission be granted, OPW will engage in a public procurement process to appoint contractors for the works. The final delivery of this project remains subject to availability of funding.