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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 83-98
 Header Item State Aid Investigations
 Header Item State Aid Investigations
 Header Item Legal Proceedings
 Header Item EU Budget Contribution
 Header Item Budget Measures
 Header Item Pension Provisions
 Header Item Tax Code
 Header Item Rental Sector
 Header Item Central Bank of Ireland Investigations
 Header Item State Claims Agency Data
 Header Item Wealth Audit
 Header Item Tracker Mortgage Examination
 Header Item Tax Code

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 964 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 89 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 83-98

State Aid Investigations

 83. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if he has had contact with the American Inland Revenue Service with regard to the recent state-aid judgment against a company (details supplied). [4314/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Notwithstanding the appeal that the Government has lodged in the Apple State Aid case, Ireland is required to comply with the binding articles of the Commission’s Final Decision and to recover the alleged aid from Apple. Irish officials are continuing this work to ensure that the State complies with all our recovery obligations as soon as possible. 

The Commission has said publicly that the recovery amount may be reduced if other countries were to require Apple to pay more taxes. The Commission’s Decision does not change the taxing rights in other countries and what the Commission is referring to here forms part of the regular private tax process for any global company, whereby they are responsible for managing their global tax affairs in the various jurisdictions in which they are located.

It is therefore a matter between the company in question and the tax authorities in the various locations where they do business as to whether there are any taxation issues to be addressed and I am not in a position to comment on that engagement due to the necessity to respect taxpayer confidentiality.

State Aid Investigations

 84. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the status of his dealings with the European Commission Director General for Competition regarding the state-aid complaint concerning NAMA and its involvement in the private sector; when he expects a decision will issue from the EU regarding same; if NAMA and his Department are working together on this issue; his views on whether comments by An Taoiseach in January 2018 regarding NAMA and state aid may force his Department and NAMA to reconsider their position regarding the complaint; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4232/18]

 94. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his views on a statement (details supplied) by An Taoiseach on NAMA; his policy on NAMA and its role in the private sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4233/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 84 and 94 together.

In late 2015, a complaint was submitted to the Competition Directorate of the European Commission (DG Comp) by a small number of property developers - including some former NAMA debtors - alleging that there may be State aid implications to NAMA's providing financing for the development of commercially viable residential projects by some of NAMA's debtors and receivers.

My officials, along with NAMA, have had extensive engagements with the European Commission in relation to the complaint over the course of the last two years, often in response to specific information requests from the DG Comp Case Team resulting from allegations made by the complainants.

As the primary relationship with the Commission is held by the State, all responses and correspondence with DG Comp is conducted through the Department of Finance with the assistance of NAMA. NAMA and my Department have co-operated fully with the European Commission throughout their preliminary investigations and have addressed all queries and provided all information requested by DG Comp to date.

I am pleased to inform you that on Thursday 25 January 2018 DG Comp issued its decision in relation to this complaint and found that NAMA did not breach EU rules. This decision allows NAMA to continue to work on maximising the number of housing units that are delivered from sites owned by its debtors and receivers. This strategy has already delivered the construction of an estimated 7,200 homes since 2014 and will enable NAMA to deliver its forecast surplus of €3bn which will accrue to the State over the coming years.

The referred statement of An Taoiseach correctly draws attention to the risk of infringing State aid rules if NAMA were to expand its remit beyond the management of the loan portfolio that was acquired in 2010/2011. The statement is fully in accordance with the decision of DG Comp and does not impact upon NAMA’s current operations regarding residential development which in line with its objective to obtain the best possible financial return for the State from its existing assets.

Legal Proceedings

 85. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the status of the legal proceedings following the service of a plenary summons (details supplied) of 8 December 2017; if a statement of claim has been served; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4295/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe A plenary summons in the proceedings entitled "David Hall v Minister for Finance, Ireland and the Attorney General" dated 8 December 2017 was received by the Department of Finance on 11 December.  The Chief State Solicitor's Office entered an Appearance for the respondents on 14 December, and has instructed counsel.  The plaintiff's Statement of Claim has not yet been served.

The plenary summons seeks a number of declaratory reliefs in relation to the allegation that the Minister has failed to ensure that there is an effective process for assessing and monitoring the remuneration of the Special Liquidators of IBRC. 

I am conscious that these proceedings are currently before the High Court.  I will however reiterate that I am satisfied that the fees and expenses in the Special Liquidation are appropriately assessed and monitored.

The Department has regular meetings with and receives regular reports from the Special Liquidators regarding the conduct of the liquidation. Four very comprehensive reports on the conduct of the Special Liquidation have been published annually since June 2014. These are publicly available on the Department's website.

EU Budget Contribution

 86. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the proposals he will make to the European Council and Commission on the possible €14 billion gap in the EU budget following Brexit; the way in which this will impact on Ireland's net contribution to EU finances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3946/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As the Deputy will be aware, the EU negotiating directives have provided for a clear structure and a united EU approach to Brexit negotiations. In practice, there have been six negotiation rounds between the EU and the UK, between June and November 2017. Sufficient progress was made at the European Council meeting held on 15 December 2017, allowing negotiations to proceed to the second phase. Work will now focus on agreeing transitional arrangements and the framework for the EU’s future relationship with the UK as well as ensuring that the commitments made in phase one on citizens’ rights, the financial settlement and the Irish specific issues are given legal effect in the Withdrawal Agreement. This is an important next step as the Withdrawal Agreement will be legally binding and will reflect the principles and commitments agreed in phase one.

Brexit negotiations are currently on-going. Therefore, as you can appreciate, it would not be appropriate for me to discuss those negotiations or the potential impact on Ireland's net contribution to the EU Budget in detail at this point. Ireland welcomes that the UK has agreed to honour its share of the financing of all the obligations while it was a member of the Union, in relation to the EU budget (and in particular the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020), which will enable a positive future relationship between the EU and the UK.

My Department currently forecasts that Ireland's contribution to the EU budget will be €2,650 million in 2018, €2,675 million in 2019 and €2,750 million in 2020. It is worth noting that these forecasts are contingent on a number of variables, including updated GNI forecasts, the size of the overall EU budget for the year and other EU budget operational developments which will only emerge as the year progresses. As a result, all forecasts will be monitored and updated on an ongoing basis as new information becomes available. 

Budget Measures

 87. Deputy Michael Harty Information on Michael Harty Zoom on Michael Harty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the progress that has been made regarding the development of a VAT compensation scheme for charities as announced in budget 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53588/17]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe In line with my Budget 2018 announcement, a VAT compensation scheme for charities will be introduced in 2019 in respect of VAT expenses incurred in 2018. Charities will be entitled to a refund of a proportion of their VAT costs based on the level of non-public funding they receive, up to a total capped fund of €5m.

Work on the introduction of this scheme has been commenced by officials of my Department and the Office of the Revenue Commissioners. While the high level principles of the scheme were published on my Department’s website on Budget Day, the wider parameters of the operation of the scheme need to be agreed, so that guidelines for charities can be published along with the Ministerial Order underpinning the scheme. When the preliminary work has been completed, my officials will engage with the wider charities sector to ensure that their views are reflected in the finalising of the scheme.

The scheme, including the amount provided in the fund, will be subject to review after three years. Claims under the scheme for 2018 cannot be made until 2019 as it will take some time for Revenue to establish IT and administrative systems.

Pension Provisions

 88. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe his plans to introduce measures to restore pension benefits in the semi-State sectors to levels that would have been established but for the introduction of the pension levy in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4236/18]

 89. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the steps he is taking to end the lifetime reduction in pension benefits for persons in the private and commercial sector as a result of the pension levy that was introduced in 2011 in view of the fact that equitable reductions are harder on lower paid pensioners. [4235/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 88 and 89 together.

The levy on pension schemes was introduced in the wake of the financial crash and at a time when the economy was in very serious difficulties. Something had to be done to preserve and boost jobs and it is an unavoidable fact that difficult economic situations require hard and very often unpopular decisions. All sectors of the economy had to contribute to the recovery plan and the levy was designed to claw back a small amount of the very generous tax reliefs that those contributing to pension arrangements had benefitted from over many years.

The original 0.6% stamp duty levy on pension fund assets ended in 2014. The additional levy of 0.15% which my predecessor introduced for 2014 and 2015, mainly to help continue to fund Jobs Initiative, also ended in 2015.

The position is that the equivalent value of all of the money raised from the stamp duty levy has been used to fund the wide range of measures introduced in the Jobs Initiative to protect existing jobs and to help create new jobs and the Initiative has been a success in this regard. The measures introduced include expenditure measures such as the JobBridge and Springboard schemes, as well as a number of tax and PRSI incentives such as the reduction in the VAT rate from 13.5% to 9% for the tourism and hospitality sectors and the temporary halving of the lower employer PRSI rate.

Under the legislation, the payment of the levy is treated as a necessary expense of a pension scheme and the trustees or insurer, as appropriate, are entitled where needed to adjust current or prospective benefits payable under a scheme to take account of the levy.  It is up to the trustees or insurer to decide whether, when and how the levy should be passed on and to what extent, given the particular circumstances of the pension schemes for which they are responsible. However, the legislation also includes safeguards aimed at ensuring that should the option of reducing scheme benefits be taken, it must be applied in an equitable fashion across the different classes of scheme members that could include active, deferred and retired members. In no case may the reduction in an individual member's or class of member's benefits exceed the member's or class of member's share of the levy. Where pension scheme trustees or an insurer took the decision to treat the levy as an expense of the pension scheme, they would have adjusted current or prospective benefits payable to members under that scheme. The consequence of this treatment by the trustees or insurer could be a permanent reduction in members' benefits.

The value of the funds raised by way of the levy has been used to protect and create jobs and this has helped to create the improving financial and economic position of the State. Taxpayers to whom the impact of the levy may have been passed on by the chargeable persons responsible for the payment of the levy (the pension scheme trustees, etc.) are benefitting from the changes which my predecessor began in Budget 2015 and which have continued in subsequent Budgets to reduce the tax burden on low and middle income earners.

Tax Code

 90. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe further to Parliamentary Question No. 131 of 12 December 2017, his views on the recent cases of persons openly and publicly utilising marriage equality legislation for the expressed purpose of benefitting from the same threshold as enjoyed by those in group A and B before paying capital acquisitions tax; his further views on whether a wider review of the heavy emphasis on marriage is needed (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4139/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe It is a long held principle of capital acquisitions tax (CAT) that transfers of property between spouses are exempt. All inheritances taken by a spouse from his or her spouse since January 1985 are exempt from tax and are not to be taken into account in computing tax. A similar exemption for gifts between spouses is also in place since January 1990. The spousal exemption from gift and inheritance tax was extended to civil partners with effect from 1 January 2011. Because the tax relief operates as a full exemption spouses and civil partners are not included in any of the three tax free group thresholds and gifts and inheritances between spouses and civil partners are not counted for aggregation purposes. Thus in the case referred to by the Deputy, the individuals in question benefitted from a long standing CAT treatment of the transfer of gifts or inheritances between spouses.

For the purposes of CAT, the relationship between who provides the gift or inheritance (i.e. the disponer) and the person who receives the gift or inheritance (i.e. the beneficiary) determines the life time tax free threshold - known as the group threshold below which gift or inheritance tax does not arise. When a person receives gifts or inheritances in excess of the relevant tax free threshold (when aggregated since 5 December 1991) CAT at a rate of 33 per cent applies on the excess over the threshold. It is the beneficiary and not the disponer who is liable for CAT.

There are three group thresholds. The Group A threshold (currently €310,000) applies where the beneficiary is a child (including adopted child, step child, and certain foster children) or minor child of a deceased child of the disponer. The Group B threshold (currently €32,500) applies where the beneficiary is a brother, sister, nephew, niece or lineal ancestor or lineal descendent of the disponer. The Group C threshold (currently €16,250) applies in all other cases.

Where certain conditions are met, it is possible for a person to be exempt from payment of inheritance tax on the receipt of a dwelling house from a person who is not his or her parent. The main conditions are that the beneficiary must have lived in the house that was the sole residence of the disponer for at least three year prior to inheritance and must not have an interest in any other house. This exemption is not contingent on the relationship between the disponer and the beneficiary.

Ordinarily a beneficiary cannot avail of the Group A threshold unless he or she receives a gift or inheritance from a parent. However, certain beneficiaries who are nephews or nieces of a disponer can avail of "favourite nephew relief". A nephew or niece who has worked substantially on a full time bases for a period of five years prior to the gift or inheritance in carrying on or assisting in the carrying on of a trade, business or profession of the disponer is entitled to the Group A threshold instead of the usual Group B threshold. Other reliefs than can also apply are agricultural and business relief.

The current CAT treatment of gifts or inheritances provides for horizontal equity in that beneficiaries of gifts or inheritances are treated equally for the purposes of the application of CAT. I do not therefore consider it necessary to make any amendment to the existing CAT treatment of gifts or inheritances.

Rental Sector

 91. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if the debt levels of the State's largest landlords and other large property funds operating here will be examined to determine the risk to the property market and the wider economy. [4315/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe My Department continually monitors developments in both the residential and commercial property sectors. This includes tracking investment, transactions, prices and the profile of property ownership.

In relation to the residential rental market, ownership is diverse, fragmented and remains dominated by small-scale landlords. According to the Residential Tenancies Board almost 70 per cent of landlords have just one tenancy while over 91 per cent of landlords have just three or fewer tenancies. In fact, the RTB estimate that as of May 2017 the top 20 landlords – large professional landlords including corporate vehicles, Real Estate Investment Trusts, investment funds and individuals – accounted for less than 3 per cent of residential tenancies.

This highly dispersed ownership structure limits any potential spillover effects on the property market from a credit event in one of these companies. This is even more so the case in the wider economy. Furthermore, in the case of REITs they are restricted, under legislation, to a maximum of 50 per cent gearing, further minimising risk in the sector.

In respect of commercial property funds, the Central Bank is responsible for the authorisation and supervision of all investment funds established in Ireland. Nonetheless, my Department will continue to monitor the profile of ownership and all other pertinent issues in both the residential and commercial property sectors.

Central Bank of Ireland Investigations

 92. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the number of regularity breaches or potential breaches reported to the Central Bank by lenders in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4296/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Central Bank of Ireland regulates more than 10,000 firms providing financial services in Ireland and overseas.

This regulation is undertaken through risk-based supervision, underpinned by a credible threat of enforcement with the objective of ensuring financial stability, consumer protection and market integrity. The types of firms regulated include Brokers/Retail Intermediaries, Bureaux de Change, Credit Institutions, Credit Servicing Firms, Credit Unions, Debt Management Firms, Electronic Money Institutions, Funds, Funds Service Providers, Insurance & Reinsurance, Investment Firms, Moneylenders, Money Transmission Businesses, Payment Institutions, Retail Credit & Home Reversion Firms, and Securities Markets.

Because these diverse sectors are legislated for differently, some under domestic law and some under EU law, the reporting requirements of these sectors are equally diverse. Furthermore, the Bank may be notified of a potential breach which then does not materialise into being, or discover a breach through a means other than a report from a lender. For this reason, and due to its confidentiality requirements, the Central Bank does not publish details of the number of breaches or suspected/potential breaches.

However, the Central Bank publishes the outcomes of its enforcement actions, some of which were triggered by information provided by firms and individuals self-reporting regulatory breaches and other as a result of the Central Bank’s intrusive regulatory approach.

The Central Bank has reached 115 settlements with firms since 2006 under its Administrative Sanctions Procedure, bringing total fines imposed by the Central Bank to over €61 million.

In the event of issues or risks being identified or reported with respect to compliance, the Central Bank of Ireland, including as part of the European Single Supervisory Mechanism, has a suite of tools with which to drive remediation. These tools include the issuing of formal risk mitigation programmes requiring credit institutions to undertake remediation action by a set date; issuing direction orders; consideration of action pursuant to the Fitness and Probity regime and/or undertaking Administrative Sanctions Procedures if a potentially serious breach is identified and/or remediation is not undertaken in an appropriate timeframe.

  Question No. 93 answered with Question No. 82.

  Question No. 94 answered with Question No. 84.

State Claims Agency Data

 95. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if a review has taken place in terms of the personal injury claims paid out by the State Claims Agency; the legal costs associated with the claims paid out; the actions taken to reduce the instances leading to personal injury claims; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4282/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The NTMA have informed me from 2010 to 2017 personal injury claim legal costs paid out on by the State Claims Agency (SCA) on behalf of state authorities and healthcare enterprises delegated to them was a little under €350 million for the Healthcare sector both Clinical and General and a little over €40 million outside of Healthcare for general claims only.

The “risk universe” managed by the SCA includes over 200,000 State employees and all public healthcare service users. The public healthcare area has circa 7 million contacts annually. It also includes public services that, by their nature, constitute higher risk activities such as clinical care in hospitals, Defence Forces personnel on operations overseas, Garda Síochána operational duties, customs inspections, emergency response services and custody of prisoners.

The SCA advise me that increasing cost in recent years, which has been in line with actuarial projects, have been contributed to by the impact of the Court of Appeal Decision in the Gill Russell v HSE case which held that the Real Rate of Return (RRR) in respect of the calculation of future care special damages should be 1%. It also held that the RRR in respect of all pecuniary losses should be 1.5%. The RRR used previously to calculate special damages in the form of future costs, loss of earnings was 3%. Another significant development has been the increase in the number of state authorities delegated to the NTMA since 2010 from 52 to 146 with the HSE’s delegation resulting in the portfolio of claims steadily increasing since 2010.

The SCA implements targeted personal injury and property damage risk work programmes to mitigate litigation risk in State authorities and healthcare enterprises, in order to reduce the costs of future litigation against the State.

In terms of actions taken to reduce instances leading to personal injury claims the SCA’s clinical risk management programme focuses on collaboration with risk managers and other personnel in healthcare enterprises to support patient safety. The enterprise risk management programme focuses on providing advice and support to State authorities and healthcare enterprises regarding risk management structures, building maintenance, fire safety, health and safety and environmental management.

Wealth Audit

 96. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if his attention has been drawn to a report (details supplied); his plans to address the over concentration of wealth in a small number of persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4136/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am aware of the Oxfam report, entitled “Reward Work, Not Wealth”, which was published on 22 January 2018. This report takes a global perspective in examining inequality.

At the outset, I want to outline Ireland’s position regarding the distribution of wealth. In 2013, the Central Statistics Office conducted the Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS), which provided the first comprehensive data on Irish household wealth.

The net wealth Gini coefficient is a commonly used measure of inequality, where a figure of 100 indicates that one household holds all the wealth and 0 indicates that wealth is evenly divided among all households. This measure, based on the HFCS data, indicates that wealth inequality in Ireland (64) for 2013 is lower than the euro area average (69). In addition, the HFCS results also show that wealth in Ireland is less concentrated at the top of the distribution (i.e. the top 1% of the population) than the euro area average.

In line with the Oxfam report’s recommendations to governments for tackling wealth inequality, the Irish Government is committed to various targets, policies and initiatives to further reduce inequality in Ireland:

Firstly, we are committed to further implementation and progress towards our inequality reduction goals within the Programme for Partnership Government, particularly through the equality proofing process of the budget.

Our highly progressive income tax and well-targeted welfare systems are notably successful at reducing income inequality. In fact, the most up-to-date OECD data available show that Ireland’s tax and welfare system creates the largest improvement in the equality of income distribution of all OECD countries for which data are available.

We are also dedicated to further advancements in the area of limiting tax avoidance, which is evident, for example, through our involvement in the OECD BEPS initiative.

Furthermore, additional policy measures such as regular reviews and/or increases of the national minimum wage also support the goal of a more equal income distribution.

Finally, I would like to highlight that Ireland already taxes wealth in a variety of ways which support redistribution, such as our Capital Gains Tax (CGT), Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT), Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT), and the Local Property Tax.

My Department will continue to monitor and consider any additional information that comes to light on this topic, and will continue to examine and regularly review all taxes and potential policy measures to further tackle wealth and income inequality.

Tracker Mortgage Examination

 97. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the measures he is taking to address the ongoing tracker mortgage controversy; the number of mortgage holders affected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2406/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Owing to the seriousness of the tracker mortgage examination and the unacceptable behaviour of the banks, I have taken a number of actions with the interests of consumers in mind. 

  Subsequent to the Central Bank's October progress update report on the tracker examination I mandated the Central Bank, under section 6A of the Central Bank Act 1942, to prepare a report on:

  - the current culture and behaviour and the associated risks in the retail banks, and

  - the actions that may be taken to ensure that banks prioritise customer interests in the future.

  On foot of this report, the Government will determine whether any additional legislative and regulatory changes are needed that would enhance accountability in the banks to ensure customer interests are prioritised. This report is expected to be provided around Q2 2018.

  I also announced two additional initiatives at the end of last year to further promote the interest of consumers. These are:

  - double the level of compensation – to €500,000 – that the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman may award to a consumer who has been adversely affected by the action of a financial services provider.

  - appoint two new members to the Central Bank Commission who will have a strong consumer protection profile.

  In terms of the number of impacted mortgage holders identified, based on the Central Bank's latest progress update, as at end-December 2017, lenders have included circa 33,700 customers as affected by tracker mortgage failings with €316 million paid so far in redress and compensation. This includes 7,100 cases involving tracker mortgage issues which were remedied outside of the examination framework.

  While the Central Bank’s view is that the vast majority of impacted customers have now been identified and that known issues around disputed groups in respect of lenders have now been resolved, the Bank will continue to review, challenge and verify the work undertaken by the lenders and complete their intrusive on-site inspection programme. The Government will continue to support the Central Bank in its efforts to complete the tracker examination as quickly as possible, and I look forward to receiving a further update report from the Central Bank in due course on the basis of end-March 2018 data.

Tax Code

 98. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the work ongoing in his Department on the corporation tax model following the Coffey report of indicating the sustainability of receipts until 2020 [4297/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The ‘Review of Ireland's Corporation Tax Code’, undertaken by Mr Seamus Coffey, was published in September 2017.

  The Review states that the increase in Ireland’s corporation tax receipts can be expected to be sustainable up to 2020.  It also acknowledges that Ireland has reached the highest standards with regard to tax transparency and makes a number of recommendations to ensure that Ireland continues to meet the highest international standards, including:

   - Updating and expanding the scope of Ireland’s transfer pricing regime;

   - Consideration of whether to change to a territorial tax system;

  -  Supporting the EU Directive on mandatory disclosure in line with OECD recommendations; and

   - Scrutiny of proposed measures to meet OECD and EU standards on preferential treatment.

  Given the need to ensure the certainty of our regime, the Review recommends a detailed consultation process with the relevant stakeholders. 

  On Budget Day I launched a public consultation on the key recommendations in the Review.  This public consultation process closes today.  Subsequent legislative changes will then be put forward for my consideration in the course of the Finance Bill process. 

  The Review excluded any possibility of a change to the 12.5% corporation tax rate. Ireland is committed to maintaining certainty in our corporate tax system and the 12.5% rate is and will remain the cornerstone of our corporation tax regime.

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