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 Header Item Written Answers Nos 181-196
 Header Item Humanitarian Aid
 Header Item Betting Regulations
 Header Item Illicit Trade in Tobacco
 Header Item Property Tax Application
 Header Item Small and Medium Enterprises Supports
 Header Item Household Charge Collection
 Header Item Tax Code
 Header Item Medical Negligence Claims
 Header Item State Debt
 Header Item Financial Institutions Support Scheme
 Header Item Tax Code
 Header Item Tax Yield
 Header Item Official Engagements
 Header Item Credit Unions

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 118 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos 181-196

Humanitarian Aid

 181. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the total humanitarian aid provided to date for the Philippines following the typhoon; the level of financial assistance being provided for 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14213/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Joe Costello): Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever recorded, hit the Philippines on 8 November. It is estimated that the Typhoon affected more than 14 million people, with almost 4 million remaining displaced, including some 1.5 million children. Over 6,000 lives have been lost to date and almost 1800 people are still missing.   Ireland was among the first to respond to this disaster, providing immediate, life-saving assistance. Our contribution to date stands at over €4.1 million making us one of the most generous contributors to this relief effort on a per capita basis.

  I have just returned from a visit to the island of Leyte in the Philippines where I saw at first hand the devastation caused by the typhoon. An enormous amount has been achieved over the past four months, including through Irish-funded programmes, some of which I visited during my two day visit to the island. However millions of people still require urgent assistance to rebuild their lives and livelihoods and during my visit I pledged a further €3 million in funding to demonstrate   Ireland’s commitment to supporting the Philippines over the longer term, particularly as international attention has shifted elsewhere.

  This contribution will bring Ireland’s total contribution to the Typhoon response to more than €7 million. The funding will help to ensure that affected communities can rebuild their livelihoods and strengthen their resilience to prepare for any future natural disasters in the region.

   Over €2.6 million of our funding has been provided through our key NGO partners. It is being used for the provision of emergency food and non-food items; water, sanitation and hygiene; emergency health care and the protection of vulnerable women and children. It is benefitting up to 50,000 households.

My colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has also authorised a contribution of €500,000 to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to support its work to restore the livelihoods of farmers affected by the Typhoon.

  To date, Ireland has authorised four airlifts of essential relief items from our emergency pre-positioned stocks. The total amount of essential relief items provided by Ireland is 166 tonnes, valued at €967,000. According to the latest figures, Ireland is the second largest contributor of emergency stocks through the UN World Food Programme Humanitarian Response Depot system. In addition, we deployed five members of Ireland’s Rapid Response Corps to the Philippines to assist UN relief teams.

  Question No. 182 answered with Question No. 180.

Betting Regulations

 183. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if there exists any prohibition on the advertising of gambling on the outcome of criminal trials similar to the prohibition on the advertising of gambling in football under the Betting Act 1931. [12961/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Section 32 of the Betting Act 1931 deals with the prohibition of advertising relating to betting on football games and provides that, other than in the case of the distribution of advertising by the registered proprietor of a registered premises in such premises, "it shall not be lawful for any person to write, print, publish or knowingly circulate any advertisement, circular or coupon advocating or inviting or otherwise relating to betting on football games or knowingly to cause or procure, or attempt to cause or procure, any such advertisement, circular or coupon to be written, printed, published or circulated". An examination of the Dáil debates at the time of the passing of the Bill in 1931 appears to suggest that the term "football" applies to both Gaelic football and soccer.  The Betting Act 1931 does not specifically prohibit advertising for betting on any other activities.

As the Deputy is aware the Betting (Amendment) Bill, currently before the House  provides for the licensing and regulation of the remote betting sector.  Matters pertaining to public order will form part of the forthcoming Gambling Control Bill.

Illicit Trade in Tobacco

 184. Deputy Damien English Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan further to Parliamentary Question No. 44 of 13 March 2014, in relation to fines issued to importers of illicit tobacco products and sellers of illicit tobacco products for each of the years 2011, 2012 and 2013, the number of such fines that were paid in each of the years; the total value in monetary value of such fines that were paid in each of the years; the amount in monetary value of outstanding fines for each of the years; if he is satisfied with the level of compliance with such fines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13705/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that numbers of fines imposed in the years in question in respect of offences relating to illicit tobacco products, and the total values of those fines, are as set out in the following table.

-201120122013
No. of cases in which  fines were imposed1189262
Total value of fines imposed€253,150€248,100€165,750


As I indicated in my reply to the Deputy's Question No. 44 of 13 March 2014, the Revenue Commissioners are not responsible for the collection of fines imposed by the Courts and would not have details about their payment.

Property Tax Application

 185. Deputy Arthur Spring Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if the owner of a house, which has been declared uninhabitable by an engineer and is the subject of a dispute in the High Court between the owner and the builder, is not obliged to pay the local property tax until the case is resolved in the High Court or the house is habitable again.  [13734/14]

 251. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if the local property tax is liable in respect of a case (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13756/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 185 and 251 together.

Based on the information supplied by the Deputies it is not possible to give definitive replies in relation to the specific cases. However, the following general information may be useful.

For Local Property Tax (LPT) purposes a residential property is defined as any building or structure (or part of a building) which is used as, or is suitable for use as, a dwelling. If a residential property is suitable for use as a dwelling but is unoccupied, it is still liable to LPT based on the valuation of the property. However, if the property is not suitable for use as a dwelling, it is not liable for LPT.

LPT is a self-assessed tax.  I am advised that if a property owner considers that her or his property is not suitable for use as a dwelling, s/he should notify the Revenue Commissioners without delay and arrange to provide relevant supporting documentation for example, photographic evidence, or a report from a suitably qualified person such as a surveyor or an engineer. Based on the information provided by the property owner, Revenue will consider the claim and make a decision on the matter.

Each case will be considered on its merits and it is therefore not possible to provide a prescriptive list of criteria that would need to be met for a property to be deemed unsuitable for use as a dwelling. However, a property owner should consider whether the property is habitable by reference to the structure of the building; including whether the property has a roof, windows and doors, sanitary facilities, and services.  Water or electricity supply turned off or temporarily disconnected would not necessarily mean that a residential property is uninhabitable.

In the context of Question No. 185 [13734], the fact that a residential property is the subject of a dispute in the High Court between the owner and the builder would not remove the obligation on the owner to pay LPT.

Finally, a property that was not liable to LPT on 1 May 2013 on the basis that it was unsuitable for use as a dwelling will not be liable to LPT for the years 2013 to 2016.  If such a property were to be refurbished to make it suitable for use as a dwelling by 1 November 2016 then it will be liable to LPT for 2017 and subsequent years.

Small and Medium Enterprises Supports

 186. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the current status of the proposed agreement with Germany to secure funding for Irish businesses from the German investment bank KfW. [13774/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Senior officials of the Department of Finance have already exchanged working papers on this subject with KfW and the German Ministry of Finance.  There have been meetings on this matter in Berlin, Frankfurt and Dublin as well as numerous teleconferences, most recently in the last week.

The NTMA and the Department of Finance are currently working on the detail of the debt products to be offered to the SME sector with a view to making them attractive in terms of both cash flow and accessibility to the sector.  As we are trying to ensure that any initiative that comes out of this process is as effective as it can be, we will be discussing approaches that meet the strategic objectives of  all stakeholders and ultimately facilitate lending to the real economy, in particular SMEs in Ireland.

The precise arrangements for the structure, level of funding and distribution options are currently the subject of the discussions between the relevant officials at present and will have to adhere to EU State Aid considerations.

Household Charge Collection

 187. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the outstanding figure for non-payment of the household charge; if the powers of collection that the Revenue Commissioners have as the collecting agency for the household charge are the same as they have for the local property tax. [13805/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by Revenue that Section 156 of the Finance Local Property Tax Act 2012 (as amended) converted any arrears of Household Charge (HHC) that were still outstanding on 1 July 2013 to Local Property Tax (LPT) and increased the amount due per individual property to €200.

  Revenue has confirmed to me that because all arrears of HHC are now converted to LPT, the outstanding liabilities will be pursued, where necessary, using the same range of collection/enforcement powers. For the Deputy's information these powers include:

  - Mandatory deduction at source from salary or various occupational pensions.

  - Surcharges on Income Tax, Corporation Tax or Capital Gains Tax Returns.

  - Referral to the Sheriff for collection.

  - Referral to Revenue's solicitors for collection through the Courts.

  - Attachment of financial institution accounts (including credit unions) held by the defaulting taxpayer, or of third party debts owed to the defaulting taxpayer.

  - Offset to HHC of any refunds due to the defaulting taxpayer across any other taxes.

  - Refusal of tax clearance certification.

  - Interest applied at a daily rate of 0.0219% (8% per annum) on all late payments of HHC.

  - Revenue has also confirmed to me that it is still finalising the matching of HHC data received from the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) to its Property Register. The current indications are that in excess of 400,000 properties are still due to pay arrears of HHC. However this number may reduce as the data matching exercise concludes.

  - Finally, Revenue has informed me that where liable persons pay their arrears of HHC on or before 31 March 2014, they will be considered compliant and will not face any further charges. However, where any arrears of HHC remains outstanding after that date, then interest will be charged at 0.0219% per day and will apply from 1 July 2013 to the date of payment. 

Tax Code

 188. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan further to the recent announcements that grandparents looking after their grandchildren will have to fill up forms, if he will outline his proposed plans; the reason it is being proposed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13954/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I assume the Deputy is referring to recent reporting in the media about the taxation of income from the provision of childcare services.  I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, regrettably, there has been significant mis-reporting about the tax obligations of childminders. 

  At the outset, I must stress that there has been no change at all in the requirements for anyone providing childcare services, whether they are grandparents looking after their grandchildren or any other person providing the service. 

  An exemption from tax for certain providers of childcare services was introduced in 2006.  This exemption was a positive measure, aimed at smaller providers of childcare services.

  I am advised that, as they do on a regular basis, the Revenue Commissioners recently issued a briefing note to remind tax practitioners and others of the need for childcare providers to notify Revenue each year of their claim for exemption from tax in respect of income from the provision of childcare services, provided they meet certain conditions.

  Individuals in receipt of income from childcare services are, in general, chargeable persons. However they can claim an exemption from income tax and USC, provided:

  - the gross amount of childcare income does not exceed €15,000 in the year,

  - they are minding not more than 3 children, and

  - the children are looked after in the home of the childminder.

  They must also notify the relevant childcare authorities each year that they are providing childcare services in their home.

  While the childcare income is exempt from income tax and USC, PRSI is chargeable. However PRSI does not apply where:

  - the provider of the childcare is over 66 years of age; or

  - the provider is under 66 and the person's only income source is childcare income which is less than €5,000 per annum.

   Therefore, in the case of grandparents providing the childcare, once they are over 66 and meet the conditions of the exemption, they will have no liability to tax, USC or PRSI.

  For those individuals under 66 and earning over €5,000, it is in their interest to claim the childcare exemption. By making the exemption claim and returning the income they are ensuring that their liability is to PRSI only and  the payment of the PRSI will go towards maintaining their entitlement to the following Department of Social Protection benefits:

  - State Pension (Contributory)

  - Widow's and Widower's (Contributory) Pension

  - Guardian's Payment (Contributory)

  - Maternity Benefit

  - Adoptive Benefit.

   Regarding the process of making the claim for exemption, I am advised that, again it has been incorrectly reported that a person must complete a 26-page form in order to get the exemption.  This is not the case and the exemption can be easily claimed on the Form 11S, which is a short, six-page form, or by going online and claiming.

  It is most unfortunate that the incorrect reporting of what was essentially a notification to people to remind them to claim an exemption from tax and USC has caused confusion in the minds of taxpayers but I am happy to correct the record and clarify matters.

Medical Negligence Claims

 189. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the number of medical negligence claims received by the State Claims Agency in 2013; the number of claims which are currently open; the average time it takes to process and the average cost of such claims; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14088/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I have been informed by the State Claims Agency (SCA) that they have been unable to collate this information in the timeframe available. I will write to the Deputy setting out the information requested as soon as it becomes available to me.

State Debt

 190. Deputy Colm Keaveney Information on Colm Keaveney Zoom on Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan in the period from April 2016 to May 2021 the total amount of Government debt that will need to be rolled-over by new borrowing; the estimate of the yearly cost of interest payments will be on Government debt in each year from 2014 to 2021, including details of what assumptions were used in arriving at estimate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12798/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The maturity profile of Government bonds and EU/IMF Programme facilities for the period 2016-2021 as at end-February 2014 is set out in the table below.  Total bonds and EU/IMF programme facilities outstanding stood at €179.2 billion at end-February. EFSM loans are subject to a seven year extension that will bring their weighted average maturity from 12.5 years to 19.5 years; the revised maturity dates of individual EFSM loans will only be determined as they approach their original maturity dates.  While the original EFSM maturities are reflected in the table below, it is not expected that Ireland will have to refinance any of its EFSM loans before 2027. EFSF loans have already been extended by seven years and accordingly no EFSF loans fall due for repayment in the period covered by the table below. 

  On that basis therefore, some €86.3 billion in bonds and Programme facilities is due to mature over the 6 year period 2016-2021.

Year of MaturityFixed Rate/Amortising BondsIMFBilateralSub-Total excluding EFSMEFSMTotal
 €bn€bn€bn€bn€bn€bn
201610.22.5 12.7 12.7
20176.43.3 9.7 9.7
20189.33.7 13.03.916.9
201914.53.71.719.9 19.9
202020.93.72.427.1 27.1
2021 3.10.73.93.06.9


Detailed estimates for general government (GG) interest expenditure covering the period 2013-2016 were last articulated in Budget 2014 and are set out below.
 GG Interest Expenditure-€m
20137,645
20148,190
20158,755
20169,230


The next General Government interest forecasts covering the period 2014-2018 will be contained in the Stability Programme Update to be published in mid-April.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme

 191. Deputy Colm Keaveney Information on Colm Keaveney Zoom on Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the total cost to the State of the bank guarantee introduced on 29 September 2008; the total amount received from the various banks in fees relating to this facility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12800/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme, 2008, and the Credit Institutions (Eligible Liabilities Guarantee) Scheme, 2009 provide that the administrative costs -legal and other costs, charges, expenses (including VAT), would be borne by the participating institutions in connection with both Schemes. To date receipts of c.€5.8m have been received in respect of these administrative costs.

  The ELG Scheme closed for new liabilities at midnight on the 28th March 2013 and no further fees will be recouped with regard to the administration of that Scheme. 

The Covered Institutions will continue to pay fees for eligible liabilities covered under the ELG Scheme which were incurred up to midnight on the 28th   March 2013 and continue to be covered up to their maturity date. This could be up to 5 years maximum from the date the liability was incurred.

  The total fees received to date from the participating institutions in respect of both the CIFS and ELG Schemes amount in total to c.€4.2bn; comprised of c.€758.4m in respect of CIFS and c.€3,461.9m in respect of the ELG Scheme. This does not include interest accrued or the administrative receipts of c.€5.8m already referred to in this reply. 

Tax Code

 192. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the position regarding importing cars from England to strip down and sell as car parts here; and the taxes and duties that are applied. [12837/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that section 131(4), Finance Act 1992 (as amended) provides that a person shall not have an unregistered vehicle in his possession or charge unless he is a person specifically authorised by the Commissioners under section 136(1) (normally motor dealers). A vehicle must be registered where it is a mechanically propelled vehicle that is (among other conditions) capable of achieving vehicle propulsion to the satisfaction of the Commissioners.

  Regulation 8, Statutory Instrument No. 318 of 1992 (as amended) provides for a period of 30 days within which to register a vehicle brought into the State by an unauthorised person.  Within this 30-day period, the vehicle must be registered with the Commissioners and the Vehicle Registration Tax paid.

  A person authorised under section 136(1) may retain unregistered vehicles until such time as they are to be sold or delivered to an unauthorised person: at this point they must be registered by the authorised person and the Vehicle Registration Tax accounted for. If the car is scrapped for parts it is no longer a mechanically propelled vehicle for the purposes of registration or VRT.  Where a person sells on car parts as part of a business activity then the normal business rules in relation to VAT apply. The Commissioners website, revenue.ie, contains a comprehensive guide that can be accessed at the following link: http://www.revenue.ie/en/tax/vrt/faqs-vrt.html  .

Tax Yield

 193. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the total tax received and the effective rate of corporation tax paid by a company (details supplied) since 2005. [12864/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The tax affairs of a particular company are a matter for the Revenue Commissioners and the company concerned. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that their obligation to observe confidentiality in relation to the tax affairs of individual taxpayers or companies (under section 851A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997) precludes them from providing the information requested by the Deputy.

Official Engagements

 194. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the number of times he or his officials have met with a company (details supplied) to discuss their operations here. [12867/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Since taking office, there have been no official meetings between me or officials of my Department and the company referred to in the question (Bristol Myers-Squibb). Nor have there been such meetings between me or officials of my Department and representatives to said company.

Credit Unions

 195. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the legal status of Newbridge Credit Union; and the legal status of the accounts held at the credit union. [12854/14]

 196. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the person who is the owner of the Newbridge Credit Union building. [12855/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 195 and 196 together.

Pursuant to a High Court order dated 10 November 2013 all assets and liabilities of Newbridge Credit Union Limited (excluding the premises) were transferred to Permanent TSB. At transfer, all savings accounts held in Newbridge Credit Union Limited became deposit accounts with Permanent TSB under section 49(5)(b) of the Central Bank and Credit Institutions (Resolution) Act 2011.

The legal entity Newbridge Credit Union Limited was placed in liquidation following an order of the High Court granted on 16 December 2013. The Newbridge Credit Union building remains in the ownership of the legal entity Newbridge Credit Union Limited.  The liquidation process is ongoing.

The Resolution Fund is the principal creditor of Newbridge Credit Union Limited. Any proceeds realised from the sale of the building (net of disposal costs) will be remitted to the Resolution Fund in accordance with the Central Bank and Credit Institutions (Resolution) Act 2011.


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