Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 208-226
 Header Item Departmental Agencies Board Remuneration
 Header Item Black Economy Issues
 Header Item Tax Code
 Header Item Office of the Ombudsman
 Header Item National Pensions Reserve Fund
 Header Item VAT Rates
 Header Item European Central Bank
 Header Item VAT Rates
 Header Item Cypriot Financial System
 Header Item State Banking Sector
 Header Item State Debt
 Header Item Tax Compliance
 Header Item Mortgage Arrears Rate

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 797 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 90 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 208-226

Departmental Agencies Board Remuneration

 208. Deputy Shane Ross Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the total cost to the taxpayer of paying the aggregate fees, salaries and any other remuneration to directors of all State bodies, to include majority State owned banks, all public interest directors, all semi-State bodies, all State agencies and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15077/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Information in respect of the total remuneration paid to members of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) Advisory Committee, the National Development Finance Agency Board, the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) Commission and the State Claims Agency Policy Committee are given below. The amounts below are based on actual remuneration payments made in 2012.

Board/Body Name No of Board Members Annual Fees payable1 Total Remuneration payments in 20122
National Treasury Management Agency Advisory Committee 7

Chairperson

€45,000



Ordinary Member

€22,500
€135,000
National Development Finance Agency Board 8 €12,600 €56,280
National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission 7

Chairperson

€51,424



Ordinary Member

€34,283
€222,8393
State Claims Agency Policy Committee 7

Chairperson

€13,713.20



Ordinary Member

€9,142.12
€42,915


  Note 1: A number of board members are ex-officio members or serving civil servants and receive no remuneration fees in respect of their membership.

  Note 2: A number of vacancies existed on the boards for varying lengths of time during 2012 as members’ terms of office expired and new members were appointed.

  Note 3: The remuneration fees of the NPRF Commission are not paid from current Exchequer expenditure but are charged directly to the account of the National Pensions Reserve Fund.

  Note 4: John Corrigan (NTMA Chief Executive) and Brendan McDonagh (NAMA Chief Executive Officer) receive no remuneration as ex-officio members of the Board. Mr John Mulcahy, NAMA Head of Asset Management, was appointed to the Board in March 2012 and as an Executive receives no remuneration in his capacity as Board member.

Information in respect of total fees and expenses paid to members of the National Asset Management Agency Board in 2012 is contained in the following table:
Board/

Body Name
No of Board Members Total Fees and Expenses Comment
National Asset Management Agency 8 Board members €488,400 John Corrigan (NTMA Chief Executive) and Brendan McDonagh (NAMA Chief Executive Officer) receive no remuneration as ex-officio members of the Board.  Mr John Mulcahy, NAMA Head of Asset Management, was appointed to the Board in March 2012 and as an Executive receives no remuneration in his capacity as Board member.


  In relation to the directors including the public interest directors of the Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and Permanent TSB details of the fees received in 2012 will be published in their annual reports and will be available by the end of March 2013.

  Question No. 209 answered with Question No. 178.

Black Economy Issues

 210. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the representations his Department has received regarding ways to curtail the black economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15094/13]

 211. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the estimated cost to the Exchequer each year of black economy activity by sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15095/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 210 and 211 together.

I receive regular representations from individuals and representative groups in relation to various aspects of the shadow economy and it is a topic which was mentioned frequently in the Pre-Budget Submissions sent in to my Department. Most correspondents would suggest measures which could be taken and all suggestions are reviewed by officials. Additional measures to curtail the shadow economy are included annually in the Finance Bill, this is an area of great concern to my Department.

Also, I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that it is not possible to estimate the cost to the Irish economy of tax evasion. The measurement of the scale of tax evasion, often referred to as the shadow economy, is inherently difficult given the nature of the problem. There is no one internationally recognised and agreed measure. There is no doubt that shadow economy activity creates distortions in the economy and competitive disadvantages for compliant businesses. For these reasons, Revenue focuses on deterring shadow economy activity and non-compliance through its audit and investigation programmes based on risk analysis, use of Revenue powers and their intelligence and information systems.

Revenue’s tax and duty compliance programmes are under constant review to ensure that they are focussed on the areas of greatest risk, including risks from the shadow economy. A variety of methodologies are used by Revenue to identify those who are operating in the shadow economy including covert surveillance, cold calls to businesses and venues as well as pre-arranged aspect queries on specific items. In addition, joint operations are conducted with the Department of Social Protection using Joint Investigation Units and there is a strong focus on cash businesses, given its potential high-risk nature.

In 2012, Revenue carried out more than 537,000 compliance interventions, yielding more than €492 million. There were fifty convictions for serious evasion during 2012, and the end of 2012, there were eighty-nine ongoing investigations with a view to prosecution.

Revenue investigations have detected the use of computer programmes or electronic devices to alter or conceal sales records. To counteract these risks, legislation was enacted in 2011 providing penalties for the possession, use or supply of automated sales suppression devices known as "zappers" for the purpose of evading tax.

Streetscape programmes, in which every cash business in an area is visited, without prior announcement, have been carried out. The main focus of real time activity is on businesses that have the potential to operate with cash. This includes professionals such as doctors, veterinary surgeons, etc.

Considerable success has been achieved in combating the illegal trade in tobacco products. In 2012, Revenue’s Customs Service seized a total of 95.6 million cigarettes from 8,108 seizures. A further 5,276 kilograms of other tobacco products were taken in 2012 from 1,395 seizures. There were 22 convictions on indictment, and 110 summary convictions, during the year for offences related to the smuggling or sale of illicit cigarettes and tobacco. In addition there were over 2,400 convictions in relation to laundered oil (2), Marked Mineral Oil (207), VRT (21), Excise Licences (152), Ant-Fraud measures (143), Return Non-Filing (1,880).

In addition to the on-going enforcement action against the illegal fuel trade, steps are being taken to ensure enhanced control and supervision at all stages of the fuel supply chain. Key actions include a strengthening of the licensing arrangements for businesses selling auto-fuel, and of the enforcement of licensing requirements. In addition, new licensing requirements have been applied to persons dealing in marked fuels, with effect from 1 October 2012. As well as these important licensing changes, a requirement operates from 1 January 2013 for all fuel traders to make electronic monthly returns to Revenue on their fuel transactions. This will facilitate Revenue in detecting unusual or anomalous patterns of activity.

Given the links of organised criminality with the illegal fuel trade, Revenue works closely with An Garda Síochána in combating it. Searches undertaken as part of intelligence-led operations have resulted in a considerable number of seizures of diesel and the closure of laundering plants, particularly in border counties. In 2012, 11 oil laundries were detected and shut down and 199,000 litres of oil were seized along with 27 vehicles, 2 forklifts and 5 trailers. There were 10 arrests in the course of these operations. 57 premises were closed in 2012. In addition to the fuel seized at laundries, a further 902,087 litre of fuel were seized during the year, the greater part from retail outlets or in the course of delivery to them.

Much of the focus of the Joint Investigation Units (JIUs) is on shadow economy activity and their operations include targeting illegal traders at markets and at seasonal events (Christmas fairs, outdoor concerts etc.). During 2012, over 3,000 outdoor checks/visits/inspections were carried out by the JIU teams including 168 multi-agency operations.

Our approach to the shadow economy is underpinned by close consultation and cooperation with other regulatory authorities such as the Department of Social Protection (DSP) and the National Employment Regulatory Authority (NERA). The primary objective of these activities is to uncover either non-declaration or under declaration of income, fraudulent DSP claims and/or non-compliance with employment regulations.

Automatic access to third party information is of enormous value to Revenue enabling us to target compliance interventions, to profile sectors and to identify gaps in tax returns. Government Departments, bodies established under statute and any other body involved in the disbursement of public funds are now required to submit returns of payment information to Revenue on an annual basis.

I am further advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they hold regular meetings with trade and representative bodies through The Hidden Economy Monitoring Group where the risks posed by shadow economy activities are discussed. Furthermore, Revenue encourages anyone who has specific information regarding any business that is engaged in tax evasion, to submit the details to their local Revenue office. The Hidden Economy Monitoring Group provides a forum for the exchange of views on the effectiveness of measures introduced in combating the hidden economy. This group, which is chaired by Revenue, includes representatives from employer and business organisations, trade unions and other Government Departments and agencies. Regional hidden economy liaison groups have been established to facilitate greater local interaction and more immediate responses to insights and issues that may be highlighted. The most recent meeting of the Hidden Economy Monitoring Group took place on January 30th.

Changes are frequently made in tax legislation aimed at counteracting shadow economy activity. Two examples from 2012 include the introduction of the electronic Relevant Contracts Tax regime and an enhanced penalty regime for employers who fail to operate PAYE regulations fully.

I am satisfied that the Revenue Commissioners are pursuing a programme that is dealing in a very determined way with tax evasion in all its forms through a range of compliance and audit interventions including targeted special projects.

Tax Code

 212. Deputy Gerald Nash Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if his Department has carried out a cost-benefit analysis for the introduction of tax breaks or other forms of incentives to support local micro-breweries and distilleries; if he will consider such a move; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15106/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan My Department has not conducted a cost-benefit analysis on the introduction of tax breaks to support micro-breweries and distilleries. The provision of other types of incentives for this industry would be a matter for the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in the first instance.

Generally speaking, it is not permitted under EU State Aid rules to have preferential tax regimes for individual sectors of the economy. That said, I am conscious of the need to support the small business sector of the economy given its key role in supporting economic growth and jobs. For that reason, I introduced a ten-point tax reform to support all small businesses in Budget 2013. This plan includes measures such as reforming the three-year corporation tax relief for start-up companies and increasing the cash receipts basis threshold for VAT.

Office of the Ombudsman

 213. Deputy Joe McHugh Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan when tax concessions for disabled drivers will come under the remit of the Ombudsman; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15117/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The First Schedule to the Ombudsman Act 1980, which shows Departments of State and other persons subject to investigation, lists the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners as such bodies. In that regard, therefore, the scheme you refer to is already within the remit of the Ombudsman.

National Pensions Reserve Fund

 214. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will set out in tabular form the impact on the general Government balance of revenue earned and gains/losses realised by the National Pension Reserve Fund in each year since its inception; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15146/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The NPRF is classified within the general government sector. Its contribution to the general government balance (GGB) is shown in table 21a of the National Income and Expenditure 2011 published by the CSO.   The table below sets out the net lending/borrowing of the NPRF; the amounts transferred to the NPRF from the Exchequer; the amount transferred from the NPRF to the Exchequer in 2011 following the disposal of Bank of Ireland (BOI) shares; and the consolidated impact of the NPRF (excluding these intra-government transactions) on the general government balance for the years 2001 to 2011.

  There is no impact on the general government balance through gains and losses on investments.

- 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Net lending (+) /borrowing(-) of the NPRF €millions 1,281 1,253 1,299 1,434 1,642 1,904 2,196 2,314 4,458 2,093 -4,366
Of which

Statutory contribution of 1% of GNP Proceeds from sale of BoI shares remitted to Exchequer
972 1,035 1,103 1,177 1,320 1,446 1,616 1,690 3,000   -1,018
Consolidated effect of NPRF on the General Government Balance 4 309 218 196 257 322 458 580 624 1,458 2,093 -3,348


  Notes:

1.   In 2009 an additional contribution was made from the Exchequer to the Fund for the purposes of recapitalising Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Banks, boosting the effect of the NPRF on the GGB by €1.4 billion bringing the contribution from the Exchequer to the NPRF in that year to €3 billion.

2.   In 2009 and 2010 the assets of the pension schemes of Universities and non-commercial semi-state bodies were transferred to the fund, boosting the effect of the NPRF on the GGB by €1 billion in each year.

  3. No contribution was paid from the Exchequer to the NPRF in 2010 and 2011 because the value of the additional contribution paid to the NPRF in 2009 and the value of the pension scheme assets transferred to the NPRF in 2010 and 2011 were offset against the requirement that the Exchequer make an annual contribution of 1% of GNP to the NPRF.

  4. The decision by Eurostat to classify €3.8 billion of the July 2011 bank recapitalisation programme as a capital transfer worsened the performance in general government terms of the NPRF by that amount.

VAT Rates

 215. Deputy Ciarán Lynch Information on Ciaran Lynch Zoom on Ciaran Lynch asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the reason school books in hard back attract a VAT rate of 0% while the e-book equivalent attracts a rate of 23% VAT; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15148/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The VAT rating of goods and services is subject to the requirements of EU VAT law with which Irish VAT law must comply. In Ireland the zero rate applies to printed books, including atlases, children’s picture, drawing and colouring books and books of music. It is possible for Ireland to apply the zero rate to printed books because Ireland applied the zero rate to these books on and before 1 January 1991, and the EU VAT Directive provides a derogation for such exceptional VAT treatment to continue to apply. However, the VAT Directive does not allow goods and services to apply at the zero rate which were not in place at that rate on 1 January 1991. As e-books were not applied at the zero rate in 1991 it is not possible to apply the zero rate to them now.

Furthermore, under the EU VAT Directive, all digitised publications, regardless of their rate when printed (for example, a book liable at zero rate), are treated as the supply of a service liable at the standard rate of VAT, which in Ireland is 23%. E-books, online newspaper subscriptions and online information services purchased via download over the Internet are also considered the supply of services liable for VAT at the standard rate. There is no option under EU VAT law to exempt e-books from VAT or to apply a reduced rate to them. While it is possible to reduce the standard VAT rate on e-books to below 23%, such a reduction would have to apply to all goods and services at the standard VAT rate, which accounts for the majority of activity liable to VAT, and would be excessively costly to the Exchequer.

European Central Bank

 216. Deputy Colm Keaveney Information on Colm Keaveney Zoom on Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan his views on a broadening of the mandate of the European Central Bank beyond their current sole focus on controlling inflation in order to include, in a manner similar to the Federal Bank in the United States and the Bank of England in the United Kingdom, a mandate to aid and promote growth to be prudent; if so, if he will detail the initiatives he has taken to secure this broadening of the ECB's mandate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15149/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The mandate of the ECB is set down in the European Treaties and the ECB is independent in the exercise of its functions.   I am not aware of any proposal for Treaty change to broaden the mandate of the European Central Bank into the area of aiding and promoting growth.

  The proposal for a Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) does not include any such proposal.

VAT Rates

 217. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will examine the VAT charge of 23% on the purchase of school books in electronic format in comparison to a 0% VAT charge on paper format schoolbooks (details supplied); if the system will be modified to ensure equity and fairness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15172/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The VAT rating of goods and services is subject to the requirements of EU VAT law with which Irish VAT law must comply. In Ireland the zero rate applies to printed books, including atlases, children’s picture, drawing and colouring books and books of music. It is possible for Ireland to apply the zero rate to printed books because Ireland applied the zero rate to these books on and before 1 January 1991, and the EU VAT Directive provides a derogation for such exceptional VAT treatment to continue to apply. However, the VAT Directive does not allow goods and services to apply at the zero rate which were not in place at that rate on 1 January 1991. As e-books were not applied at the zero rate in 1991 it is not possible to apply the zero rate to them now.

Furthermore, under the EU VAT Directive, all digitised publications, regardless of their rate when printed (for example, a book liable at zero rate), are treated as the supply of a service liable at the standard rate of VAT, which in Ireland is 23%. E-books, online newspaper subscriptions and online information services purchased via download over the Internet are also considered the supply of services liable for VAT at the standard rate. There is no option under EU VAT law to exempt e-books from VAT or to apply a reduced rate to them. While it is possible to reduce the standard VAT rate on e-books to below 23%, such a reduction would have to apply to all goods and services at the standard VAT rate, which accounts for the majority of activity liable to VAT, and would be excessively costly to the Exchequer.

Cypriot Financial System

 218. 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 he will provide an assessment of the exposure of Irish households and businesses to the Cypriot financial system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15179/13]

 219. 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 he will confirm the exposure of Irish banks including the Central Bank of Ireland to Cypriot sovereign bonds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15180/13]

 220. 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 he will confirm the exposure of the European Central Bank to the Cypriot financial system; and if he will provide an assessment of the contribution of this State to any losses incurred by the ECB on its exposure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15181/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 218 to 220, inclusive, together. 

  I am informed by the Central Bank of Ireland that the exposure of the covered banks to Cypriot sovereign bonds is zero.

  I have no information on the exposure of Irish households to Cypriot sovereign bonds and businesses to the Cypriot financial system.

  The Central Bank does not disclose details of specific exposures within its own investment portfolio. The Central Bank does not comment on the investment holdings of the ECB.

  I would draw the Deputy’s attention to the European Central Bank notice on 21 February 2013 whereby details on securities holdings acquired under its Securities Markets Programme were published.

State Banking Sector

 221. 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 he will outline the capital control measures he has available to him to prevent bank runs on Irish banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15182/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Firstly, I would like to point out that since the Irish covered banks were recapitalised in July 2011 they’ve experienced deposit inflows of c.€14.8 billion. Deposits have increased by €7.7bn year on year to the end of February 2013. It is also important to note that the covered banks have raised significant funding on international capital markets, both through public covered bond issues and private funding transactions, of over €3.5 billion. In addition, new investors have purchased the €1 billion Bank of Ireland contingent capital bond from the State and that bank has also raised an additional €250 million in lower tier 2 debt.

These capital and deposit inflows are significant.

In relation to the Deputy’s specific question, the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland have a range of powers to prevent capital outflows before consideration of capital controls. In relation to capital controls, such measures would have an adverse impact on the Irish economy, which is a small, open, economy dependent on its vibrant export orientated sectors. Our export industries need secure and efficient payment mechanisms which ensure the free movement of capital. Our strategy of pursuing strong and sustainable export led growth has been fully endorsed by each of the members of the Troika.

State Debt

 222. 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 he will confirm the sterling and euro sums drawn down on the bilateral loan provided by Britain to the State as part of the 2010 programme finance arrangement; the applicable annual interest rate; the sterling and euro sums that he expects to be drawn down in future; and if he will provide an assessment of the risk that penalties provided for in the bilateral loan agreement in case the full amount of the loan is not drawn down, will be triggered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15183/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan As of end-February 2013, the nominal United Kingdom (UK) bilateral loan sterling amount under the EU/IMF Programme was £2.02 billion. The end-February euro equivalent amount, taking account of the effect of currency hedging transactions, was €2.45 billion.

  Taking account of the latest £0.4 billion disbursement on 6 March, the overall nominal total now stands at £2.42 billion, or approximately €2.9 billion euro equivalent. The details of the six individual UK bilateral loan amounts are set out in table format below. The table also provides details on draw down and maturity dates.

  The interest rate for each disbursement of the UK bilateral loan is calculated as the weighted gross redemption yield on all UK Debt Management Office (DMO) gilt issuances to the market in the six month period up to the date of the disbursement of each portion of the loan, plus a service fee of 18 basis points. Taking account of the disbursement on 6 March, the blended interest rate on the UK loans is estimated at 2.64%.

Lender Nominal Loan Amount Date of Drawdown Maturity Date Term from Drawdown
UK GBP 0.4bn 14 Oct 2011 15 Apr 2019 7.5 years
  GBP 0.4bn 30 Jan 2012 30 Jul 2019 7.5 years
  GBP 0.4bn 28 Mar 2012 28 Sep 2019 7.5 years
  GBP 0.4bn 1 Aug 2012 3 Feb 2020 7.5 years
  GBP 0.4bn 19 Oct 2012 19 Apr 2020 7.5 years
  GBP 0.4bn 6 Mar 2013 6 Sep 2020 7.5 years
UK GBP Total GBP 2.42bn     7.5 years average weighted life
€ Equivalent Total €2.9bn      
  

  Under the bilateral agreement with the UK, worth a total value of £3.2 billion or (€3.8 billion based on the exchange rates prevailing in November 2010), the funds are disbursed in eight equal tranches.

  Upon completion of the 9th EU/IMF Programme Review, which is presently ongoing, the UK is scheduled to disburse the next £0.4 billion instalment of its bilateral loan. This is expected in Quarter 2. The final drawdown of £0.4 billion is presently expected in Quarter 3 2013, subject to successful completion of the 10th Programme Review, which is scheduled to commence in late April. The euro value of the two remaining disbursements will only become known on drawdown, as they will be dependent on the Euro/Sterling exchange rate applicable at the time.

  We expect to fully draw down all of the EU/IMF Programme funding available, including the full UK bilateral loan, and so the issue of penalties, as referred to by the Deputy, does not arise.

Tax Compliance

 223. 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 he will provide his assessment of the plans by the British government and its Chancellor of the Exchequer to name and shame promoters of tax avoidance schemes; if he has any plans to introduce a similar practice here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15184/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I understand that the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the context of a range of anti-avoidance measures announced in his recent Budget Statement, indicated that it is the intention of the Government to undertake, through HMRC, a consultation process during the summer in respect of a package of information powers, penalties and other measures including the possible use of “naming and shaming” for tackling the behaviour of high-risk promoters of tax avoidance schemes.

As the specific details of the proposed measures and how they might impact, will not become available until such time as the consultation process gets underway, it is difficult to give any kind of meaningful assessment of a naming and shaming approach at this stage. Clearly, any final decision to go ahead with such a policy, and the parameters that would attach to it, will be informed by the consultation process itself.

Tackling tax avoidance is an inherently difficult problem because, in reality, it is a symptom of the tax system that we have. So long as there are boundaries in the system, tax advisors and taxpayers will seek to exploit those boundaries. Difficult and all as the challenge is, however, it is a challenge that has to be met because aggressive tax avoidance distorts markets, is economically unproductive and breaks the fundamental link between economic productivity and reward. It also, of course, threatens Exchequer tax yields and the perceived fairness of the tax system. In the current economic climate when many individuals are losing their jobs, facing significant cutbacks in pay and welfare provisions and increases in taxes, it is particularly invidious.

I have noted with interest the Chancellor’s plans in this area. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they closely monitor international trends in relation to tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning, particularly in relation to the UK. They also study steps taken by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to counter tax avoidance.

Over the last number of years acting on proposals from Revenue, myself and my predecessors have introduced specific anti-avoidance provisions in addition to developing our general anti-avoidance legislation including provisions in relation to mandatory disclosure. It should be noted that Ireland was one of the first OECD countries to introduce a General Anti-Avoidance law and the UK authorities are now about to implement such a provision. In addition, Ireland has had for many years legislation providing for the publication of the names of tax defaulters – something which the UK has recently introduced.

Revenue will closely monitor the UK consultation process and the outcome of that process with a view to assessing if a naming and shaming policy might enhance our fight against the promoters of aggressive tax avoidance schemes. It should be borne in mind that this is a complex area involving issues such as legal professional privilege that requires careful consideration.

In summary, while I have no plans to introduce a naming and shaming practice at this time, I retain an open mind on the issue and if, in due course, Revenue were to recommend such a course of action I will give it due consideration at that time.

Mortgage Arrears Rate

 224. 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 mortgages drawn down in County Roscommon currently in arrears; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15207/13]

 225. 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 mortgages drawn down in County Leitrim currently in arrears; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15208/13]

 226. 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 mortgages drawn down in County Galway currently in arrears; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15209/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 224 to 226, inclusive, together.

The Central Bank commenced the quarterly publication of mortgage and mortgage arrears data from the period ending September 2009. The most recent available data, which is for the quarter ending December 2012, indicates that 11.9% of PDH mortgages and 18.9% of BTL mortgages were in arrears of more than 90 days. The Central Bank has advised me that it does not publish a geographical breakdown of its quarterly mortgage arrears statistics.


Last Updated: 29/04/2020 08:09:11 First Page Previous Page Page of 90 Next Page Last Page