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Written Answers. - Dormant Accounts.

Tuesday, 26 November 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 1

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 483. Mr. O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  the progress which has been made on dormant account funds; the total figure for allocation; when they will be allocated; the areas in which the funds will be allocated; the persons to whom; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23339/02]

Minister of State at the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Mr. N. Ahern): Information on Noel Ahern Zoom on Noel Ahern The main purpose of the Dormant Accounts Act, 2001, is to reunite account holders with their dormant funds in credit institutions, that is banks, building societies and An Post. If the owners of accounts which have been dormant for 15 years or more do not come forward by the end of March 2003 to reclaim their moneys the balances in the accounts will be transferred to a dormant accounts fund. This fund will be established and managed by the National Management Treasury Agency. The transfer of moneys will take place on the basis that the beneficial owners of them will have a guaranteed right of reclaim to their property at any time in the future. The Act also provides for a scheme to disburse surplus dormant funds for community and societal benefit by an independent board.

Since the legislation was enacted in July 2001 significant progress has been made in relation to implementing the Act. The Dormant Accounts Fund Disbursements Board, which comes under the aegis of my Department, was established in June. The board's functions are to prepare a disbursement plan and to direct the NTMA to make disbursements. It is currently drawing up its dis[336] bursement plan which is expected to be completed in the spring of 2003.

The first transfer of funds from credit institutions to the dormant accounts fund is due to take place at the end of April 2003. It is only then that the amount of money available to the fund will become known. The fund will be divided into a reserve account and an investment and disbursements account. The purpose of the reserve account is to provide for reclaims by original owners or their beneficiaries and to meet the costs incurred by the NTMA and the board in performing their functions under the Act. The level of the reserve account will be set by the NTMA with my approval, given with the consent of my colleague the Minister for Finance.

The purposes for which disbursements can be made are set out in the Act. These include programmes or projects to assist persons who are economically, educationally or socially disadvantaged, persons with a disability and in particular programmes or projects to assist primary school students with learning difficulties. Disbursements from the fund can only be made following the first transfer of moneys into the fund which will take place at the end of April 2003.

The Unclaimed Life Assurance Policies Bill, 2002, which is currently before the Oireachtas is intended to provide another source of funding for the dormant accounts fund.

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