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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 147-162
 Header Item Banking Sector Investigations
 Header Item Central Bank of Ireland IT Operations
 Header Item Property Taxation Administration
 Header Item Property Taxation Application
 Header Item Property Taxation Administration
 Header Item Appointments to State Boards
 Header Item IBRC Staff
 Header Item IBRC Staff
 Header Item Central Bank Board Meetings
 Header Item Central Bank Board Membership
 Header Item Bank Guarantee Scheme Administration
 Header Item IBRC Liquidation
 Header Item Credit Unions Issues
 Header Item Property Taxation Administration

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 810 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 90 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 147-162

Banking Sector Investigations

 147. Deputy Billy Timmins Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the position on recent revelations regarding Anglo Irish Bank (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [32871/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Like every citizen in this country who is working hard to restore the Irish economy I am deeply disturbed by the taped conversations involving these Anglo executives in 2008 and dismayed to hear senior banking executives refer to the banking crisis with such arrogance. The Irish taxpayer has grimly endured the austere cost of the bank recapitalisation and the bank guarantee. They are understandably outraged by these revelations. Irish citizens have suffered greatly as a direct result of the banking crisis and the events which have led to the bank guarantee. The recent revelations will only serve to reinforce the Government’s resolve to move this country back in the right direction by tightening up regulation and enforcing it.

The tapes raise serious issues and this Government is committed to ensuring that the public is fully informed about what happened in Irish Banks in the lead up to and during the financial crisis. The Government has published the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013 which, if enacted, will provide the legal framework for a banking inquiry to be held within the current constitutional parameters. I expect that once that legislation is on the Statute Book the Houses of the Oireachtas will move quickly to progress that inquiry. It is important that all relevant parties participate fully with any resulting inquiry.

In addition there are ongoing investigations by the Gardaí that must be let run their course. The Central Bank is also carefully studying the various transcripts emerging and they will be liaising with the Gardaí in this regard. The Central Bank is also examining whether or not any breaches of regulatory requirements may have occurred arising from the information contained in the transcripts.

Central Bank of Ireland IT Operations

 148. 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 the Central Bank of Ireland was affected by a recent power disruption at the HP data centre in Santry, Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32939/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am informed by the Central Bank that as a result of facilities works at the HP Santry data centre on 21st June, a power interruption lasting 15 minutes took place. The impact was minor and did not interrupt any business service of the Central Bank. I am also informed that migration to the HP data centre is in its early stages and the bulk of services are not yet live. Accordingly, it was not necessary to consider invoking service continuity procedures.

Property Taxation Administration

 149. Deputy Robert Dowds Information on Robert Dowds Zoom on Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan with regard to deferral of property tax, the reason the rate of interest stands at 4%, nearly twice the current bank interest rate.  [32952/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012, as amended, provides for the charging of interest on overdue taxes at a daily rate of 0.0219 per cent per day, just under 8% per annum, the same as the rate chargeable in relation to other taxes under the care and management of the Revenue Commissioners. The legislation provides for the possibility of full or partial deferral in certain defined circumstances to qualified liable persons, and in such circumstances, the daily interest rate is 0.011 per cent, just under 4% per annum. This is half the interest rate that applies to cases of non-compliance. The deferred amount, including interest, will attach to the property and will have to be paid before the property is sold or transferred.

Certain events such as the receipt of money by way of winnings, gifts, inheritances or capital sums of any kind will cause the tax deferred up to that point, including interest, to become immediately payable. Deferred LPT and interest will have to be discharged on the sale/transfer of the property. However, a deferral may be allowed to continue where the property passes to another person by way of a gift or inheritance and the new liable person is also eligible for a deferral. Deferrals are voluntary and the tax payer may choose to pay any deferred LPT though not required to do so.

Therefore, the length of time that LPT may be deferred and any amounts deferred will vary depending on individual circumstances. These are some of the factors which make direct comparisons between the rates of interest charged on deferred LPT and bank loans difficult.

Per Central Bank figures (Retail Interest Rate Statistics: April 2013), the weighted average interest rate on outstanding loans to households for consumption and other purposes stands at 6.19 per cent at end-April 2013. The interest rate on short-term loans for consumption and other purposes with an agreed maturity up to one year stood at 9.74 per cent at end-April 2013. The corresponding short-term rate reported by all credit institutions in the euro area was lower at 7.73 per cent at end-April 2013. Short-term loans for consumption and other purposes with an agreed maturity of up to one year include both overdrafts and credit card debt. In terms of longer-term loans, the interest rate reported by Irish resident credit institutions on loans with an original maturity over five years was 3.95 per cent at end-April 2013. This rate fluctuates with the reported rate at 4.17 per cent as of April 2012. In the euro area, the equivalent long-term interest rate reported by all credit institutions stood at 4.88 per cent at end-April 2013.

While a variable rate linked to Central Bank interest rates was considered, a fixed rate was favoured on grounds of certainty to taxpayers over how much they may owe and ease of administration for the Revenue Commissioners in calculating any interest due. I am satisfied that the rate of interest on deferred LPT is proportionate in the context of the higher rate of interest for cases of non-payment of LPT and current interest rates on loans from financial institutions.

Property Taxation Application

 150. Deputy Robert Dowds Information on Robert Dowds Zoom on Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan in terms of deferral of property tax, if the same deferral conditions apply when the person involved is availing of the fair deal programme. [32953/13]

 152. Deputy Robert Dowds Information on Robert Dowds Zoom on Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan in respect of the local property tax, the position regarding the deferral rule where a house is willed to someone who is unable to pay due to unemployment.  [32956/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 150 and 152 together.

  Based on the information supplied by the Deputy it is not possible to provide a definitive reply to these questions. However, the following information may be relevant.

  The Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 provides for the possibility of deferring all or part (50%) of the LPT charge in cases where certain specified conditions are met. While the deferral arrangements are not specifically linked to the Health Service Executive Fair Deal Scheme, an individual who is availing of that Scheme may be entitled to defer the charge. In order to answer the question fully however, I am advised that the Deputy would have to provide more specific details.

  I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the general position is that under section 5 of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (as amended), an exemption may be obtained where a property that was previously occupied by a person as his or her sole or main residence has been vacated by the person for 12 months or more due to long term mental or physical infirmity. An exemption may also apply where the period is less than 12 months, if a doctor is satisfied that the person is unlikely at any stage to return to the property. In both cases, the exemption applies only where the property is not occupied by any other person or is not jointly owned with another person.

  The Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (as amended) provides that a liability for Local Property Tax (LPT) will arise where a person is a liable person in relation to a residential property on the liability date, which was 1 May 2013 for the year 2013. This includes a person who inherited a residential property and owned it on that date.

  An unemployed person who is an owner-occupier of a residential property may be entitled to a full or partial deferral if their annual income is within the limits set out in the LPT legislation. Full details of all deferral options are outlined in the Guidelines on Deferral or Part Deferral of Local Property Tax, which are available on Revenue's website, www.revenue.ie.

Property Taxation Administration

 151. Deputy Robert Dowds Information on Robert Dowds Zoom on Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if there is any redress for owners who have over-assessed the value of their dwellings.  [32955/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that as the Local Property Tax (LPT) is a self-assessed tax it is a matter for the property owner to calculate the tax due based on his or her assessment of the market value of the property. For the purposes of LPT, values for properties under €1 million are organised into valuation bands, with an initial band from €0 to €100,000 and 18 bands between €100,001 and €1,000,000 with a range of €50,000 in each band. As property owners were not required to provide a precise value for their property as at 1 May 2013, it is anticipated that for the most part overpayments of LPT should not happen. That initial valuation of a property on 1 May 2013, assuming it was made in good faith, is valid up to and including 2016 and will not be affected by any increase or decrease in property prices or other changes during this period. This will ensure a measure of certainty for all property owners. Accordingly, where an owner assessed that the value of a residential property on 1 May 2013 places it in a particular valuation band but, due to a general decrease in property prices after that date, the reduction in the value of the property would place it in a lower valuation band, the owner will not be entitled to a refund of tax. By the same token, if the property increases in value in that period, no additional charges will apply. The owner will, however, have the opportunity to re-assess the value of the property on the next valuation date, which is 1 November 2016.

Revenue is most concerned that people meet their obligations voluntarily and pay the correct amount of tax. However, if someone has genuinely overpaid their LPT, Section 26 of the 2012 Act (as amended) provides that a claim for a refund of the tax overpaid may be made to Revenue, where the overpayment of LPT was made due to an error or mistake on a return or a statement made by the liable person, subject to certain conditions being satisfied. In this regard, I am advised that Revenue will issue detailed guidelines later in the year setting out the procedures to be followed by those who consider that they have either over or under valued their property for LPT purposes or inadvertently paid on foot of the Revenue estimate. However, in the meantime, if a person has such concerns regarding their property, they can write to LPT Branch, Government Buildings, Kilrush Road, Ennis, Co. Clare setting out their case and the matter will be considered.

I am advised by Revenue that any valuation amendments to Local Property Tax Returns must be in writing and must be supported by the appropriate evidence to explain or prove the need to decrease the value. Evidence can be in the form of recent sales or advertised house prices in the area, professional valuations or house price surveys for the area.

  Question No. 152 answered with Question No. 150.

Appointments to State Boards

 153. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan in what capacity was a person (details supplied) a member of the board of the Central Bank of Ireland; and if he was representing himself or the trade union movement.  [33006/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Mr David Begg’s appointment in 1995 to the Board of the then Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (CBFSAI) was in the context of his role as General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

IBRC Staff

 154. 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 number of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation staff who have transferred to the National Asset Management Agency; the number who are on fixed-term contracts; the number who are permanent appointees; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [33036/13]

 167. 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 staff of the former Anglo Irish Bank now employed by the National Treasury Management Agency and in the National Asset Management Agency specifically.  [33120/13]

 168. 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 is satisfied that none of the former Anglo Irish Bank staff taken on by the National Asset Management Agency was involved in the events that led up to the failure of Anglo Irish Bank.  [33121/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 154, 167 and 168 together.

Twenty National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) staff assigned to the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) have been recruited directly from the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) or its predecessor entities. All of these staff have been recruited on the basis of specified purpose contracts.

The issue of a transfer of staff from IBRC to NAMA does not arise. Prior to the appointment of the Special Liquidators to IBRC on 7 February 2013, IBRC provided primary servicing (loan administration services) on NAMA loans with nominal balances of €41 billion and provided special servicing (debtor engagement) on €5.1 billion of this portfolio. These services are now being moved to Capita Asset Services which was appointed by NAMA in March as back-up servicer to the existing IBRC portfolio. Capita is currently recruiting staff, both within IBRC and elsewhere. As part of the new arrangements, NAMA has decided to assume certain oversight functions in relation to this portfolio and, arising from this, positions have been advertised and applications have been received from IBRC staff. I am advised that this process is still ongoing and that of 27 offers made to IBRC staff to date 10 have been accepted and 17 have been declined.

In addition, as part of the Government’s decision in February to appoint the Special Liquidators, it was decided that NAMA would acquire any loans which were unsold after the Special Liquidators had completed a loan valuation and sales process. The loan valuation process is currently underway and I am advised that additional positions are likely to become available in NAMA and in its service providers after the loan sales process has concluded and NAMA has acquired any unsold loans.

It is a matter for the NTMA, as employer, to satisfy itself as to the suitability of the staff it recruits, including staff assigned to NAMA. Section 42 of the NAMA Act requires the NTMA to ascertain to its satisfaction that the staff it proposes to assign to NAMA are of good character and have not been convicted of any offence likely to render them unfit or unsuitable, have not been disqualified or restricted from acting as a director under the Companies Acts and have no material conflicts of interest, whether actual or potential. In addition, under section 42(3), a member of staff of the NTMA is required to provide a statement of his or her interests, assets and liabilities before being assigned to NAMA.

IBRC Staff

 155. 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 number of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation staff who have been made redundant or have been notified that they will be made redundant since the liquidation of the company was announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [33037/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I have been informed by the Special Liquidators that following the appointment of the Special Liquidator, 809 employee contracts were terminated in the Republic of Ireland. 802 employees were re-hired by the Special Liquidators on short term contracts to assist with the liquidation of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Limited. The 7 employees who were not re-hired held senior positions within the Bank. I have been advised by the Special Liquidators that they have entered into a redundancy consultation period with 23 staff in Belfast and 11 staff in London. I have also been informed that there are 16 staff members in Republic of Ireland whose contracts are not being renewed once they terminate on 7 September 2013.

Central Bank Board Meetings

 156. 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 set out, by member, the attendance at Central Bank board meetings in the two years prior to the banking guarantee and in the months afterwards; the timeframe the board met; and the remuneration including expenses paid to the board members. [33039/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The attendance records for Central Bank board meetings, for the period 2006-2009, are set out in the following schedule. In relation to remuneration, Directors’ fees from 2006-2008 and part of 2009 were €17,500 per annum. In May 2009, Directors fees were revised downwards by 10% to €15,750 per annum.

  Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland

  Attendance at Board Meetings

-2006200720082009
Total Number of Meetings Held 11111512
Number of Meetings Attended by:
Liam Barron1161n/an/a
David Begg991311
Tom Considine62n/an/an/a
Gerard Danaher68148
Friedhelm Danz93n/an/an/a
Roy Donovan101044n/a
David Doyle55101311
John Dunne11101512
Jim Farrell6n/an/a1011
Alan Grayn/a7111210
Tony Grimesn/a481412
Brian Hilleryn/an/a6910
Patrick Honohann/an/an/a310
John Hurley11111311912
Patrick Neary10131113014
Dermot O’Brienn/an/a1212
Mary O’Dea15n/an/an/a12
Martin O’Donoghue1011316n/a
Liam O’Reilly117n/an/an/a
Brian Patterson108018n/a
Deirdre Purcell11101311


  1. Liam Barron retired as Director General in August 2007

  2. Tom Considine ceased to be a member of the Board on 30 June 2006 on his retirement as Secretary General of the Department of Finance.

  3. Friedhelm Danz retired from the Board on 26 October 2006.

  4. Roy Donovan retired as a Director in April 2008

  5. David Doyle appointed as a Director July 2006

  6. Jim Farrell appointed as Chairman of the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority in May 2008

  7. Alan Gray appointed as a Director in December 2006

  8. Tony Grimes appointed as Director General August 2007

  9. Brian Hillery appointed as a Director in May 2008

  10. Patrick Honohan appointed as Governor in September 2009

  11. Tony Grimes, Director General, was appointed acting Governor from 19 July until 19 September 2008

  12. John Hurley retired as Governor on 25 September 2009

  13. Patrick Neary appointed as Chief Executive of the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority in February 2006

  14. Patrick Neary retired as Chief Executive of the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority in January 2009

  15. Mary O’Dea appointed Acting Chief Executive of the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority in January 2009

  16. Martin O’Donoghue retired as a Director in April 2008

  17. Liam O’Reilly retired as Chief Executive of the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority in January 2006

  18. Brian Patterson retired as Chairman of the Authority in April 2008

Central Bank Board Membership

 157. 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 members of the Central Bank board in the 15 years leading up to the banking guarantee and in the immediate aftermath of the guarantee.  [33041/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The information sought by the Deputy in relation to members of the Board of the Central Bank is set out in the following schedule.

SurnameFirst Name
Appointed
Term expired (incl. reappointments)
McAleeseDermot
30-Jul-79
31-Jan-96
FergusonVincent A
17-Jun-83
16-Jun-93
O'ConnorStephen
17-Jun-83
31-Jan-96
CromienSean P
01-May-87
30-Apr-08
WalshMary
01-Jul-88
30-Jun-98
DonovanRoy
01-Dec-89
30-Apr-08
MoriartyPatrick J
01-Dec-89
30-Nov-98
MurphyMichael
15-Jan-90
14-Jan-95
RyanEoin
14-Sep-92
Deceased 14-Dec-01
McCannBilly
29-Jul-93
28-Jul-98
O'ConnellMaurice
01-May-94
30-Apr-02
MullarkeyPatrick
13-Jun-94
09-Mar-00
ByrneDonal
28-Jun-94
30-Apr-03
BeggDavid
12-May-95
30-Apr-03
DanzFriedhelm
01-Feb-96
Resigned 31-Oct-06
NugentJim
12-Feb-98
11-Feb-03
O'DonoghueMartin
01-Jul-98
30-Apr-08
DanaherGerard
15-Oct-98
30-Sep-10
HurleyJohn
10-Mar-00
25-Sep-09
McBennettMichael
22-Feb-02
01-May-03
ConsidineTom
11-Mar-02
30-Jun-06
DunneJohn
01-May-03
30-Sep-10
FarrellJim
01-May-03
30-Sep-10
O'ReillyLiam
01-May-03
30-Apr-06
PattersonBrian
01-May-03
30-Apr-08
PurcellDeirdre
01-May-03
30-Sep-10
BarronLiam
01-May-03
17-Aug-07
NearyPatrick
01-Feb-06
31-Jan-09
DoyleDavid
01-Jul-06
31-Jan-10
GrayAlan W
21-Dec-06
30-Sep-10
GrimesTony
18-Aug-07
28-Jul-11
HilleryBrian
01-May-08
30-Sep-10
O'BrienDermot
01-May-08
30-Sep-10
O'Dea Mary
01-May-08
04-Jan-10
HonohanPatrick
26-Sep-09
ElderfieldMatthew
04-Jan-10
CardiffKevin
01-Feb-10
03-Feb-12
ClarkeBlanaid
01-Oct-10
FitzGeraldJohn
01-Oct-10
GeraghtyDes
01-Oct-10
SodenMichael
01-Oct-10
WatsonMax
01-Oct-10
Resigned 31-Dec-11
AhearneAlan W
08-Mar-11
MoranJohn
06-Mar-12
    

Bank Guarantee Scheme Administration

 158. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan further to Parliamentary Question No.191 of 11 June 2013 the reason the details sought per bank from 2008 are a matter of commercial sensitivity five years on; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [33043/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Deputy refers in his question to an earlier related question to which I gave a written reply on 11 June, 2013. This reply was in response to the Deputy’s request then for details of the breakdown of covered liabilities by bank as of 30 September, 2008. The details sought by the Deputy were communicated to my Department on the basis that the information was confidential and as being commercially sensitive. I am informed by my officials that this continues to be the case and will be unless the information becomes a matter of public record. I am informed that release of commercially sensitive information such as that originally requested by the Deputy could result in Market Disclosure Issues for those banks that are listed companies in respect of any releases that are not made through appropriate channels.

  The Deputy will appreciate that the information was provided on a confidential basis and that its release without the approval of the banks concerned would be a breach of trust and could damage the relationships between the banks and the Authorities with consequences for provision of information by the banks in the future.

  The Deputy will be aware from recent replies to questions of a similar nature raised in this House last week that there is information in aggregate form on the breakdown of liabilities of the covered banks for the period in question, 30 September, 2008 and this can be accessed at the following web address:   
http://www.finance.gov.ie/documents/publications/reports/2011/nybergreport.pdf

IBRC Liquidation

 159. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the number of safety deposit boxes remaining in Irish Bank Resolution Corporation on the night the bank was liquidated; if any such deposit boxes remain unclaimed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33060/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I have been advised by the Special Liquidators that there were 24 safety deposit boxes in use when the Special Liquidators were appointed to IBRC. The Special Liquidators are currently reconciling the safety deposit boxes to determine ownership.

Credit Unions Issues

 160. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will provide an update on the current state of credit unions and the banking issue; and if credit unions are now coming under pressure to bail out the banks. [33082/13]

 162. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he shares the concerns of credit unions on debt sharing (details supplied).  [33097/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I propose to take Questions Nos. 160 and 162 together.

An unsustainable debt position has been reached by many borrowers, which needs to be addressed for the benefit of both borrowers and lenders alike. The Central Bank is facilitating a voluntary co-ordinated approach among lenders to the resolution of multiple debts owed by distressed borrowers.

The Central Bank is now carrying out a pilot exercise, involving banks, credit unions and other lenders, to test an approach to dealing with both secured and unsecured debt in a sample of approximately 750 cases where borrowers have debts with multiple lenders. This pilot framework contains a restructuring waterfall that will be applied to each borrower that agrees to participate, in order to establish the most appropriate modification to put him or her on an affordable repayment path. The pilot will operate for a period of three months, after which the results will be assessed to establish the effectiveness of the framework and to determine the appropriate next steps. It should be emphasised that participation in the pilot is voluntary for both the lender and borrower.

The Central Bank pilot scheme will offer the opportunity for distressed borrowers - including credit union members - to resolve their debts without the need to enter into a formal statutory process. In this respect, it is important that credit union members are not left with a more limited range of options than are available to customers of other financial institutions. It is in this spirit that the Central Bank has written to all credit unions to make them aware of the pilot so that the credit unions can decide whether their participation is in the interests of their members, including members with distressed debts across multiple lenders.

Credit unions have been invited by the Central Bank to nationwide information seminars on the pilot scheme to discuss its objectives and approach. The Irish League of Credit Unions has also been invited to attend at these sessions and provide input into the content of them.

The Central Bank initiatives in the mortgage arrears area, including the pilot framework and the mortgage arrears targets initiative announced last March, is consistent with the overall Government approach to the mortgage arrears problem. In particular, the Government, while significantly modernising Ireland’s bankruptcy and insolvency law and procedures, has also advocated and encouraged borrowers and lenders to address situations of debt difficulty, where possible, on a bilateral and informal basis, and the recent Central Bank initiatives should underpin that process. Taken together, the framework is in place to enable lenders to work with distressed borrowers to reach sustainable solutions for dealing with their personal indebted situations.

The correspondence referred to in the Question also raises an issue regarding the repayment of direct debits. I can clarify in terms of the refund rights available to payers under SEPA, these are laid down in the Payment Services Directive 2009 (the PSD) as transposed by S.I. 383 of 2009, and in the SEPA Direct Debit (SDD) scheme rulebook published by the European Payments Council (the owner of the SDD scheme).

The PSD grants consumers refund rights in three situations - for overcharging, unauthorised debits and incorrect processing. For unauthorised debits and incorrect processing, the payer has a right to an immediate refund as long as they notify their bank as soon as possible, and no later than 13 months after the debit date.

Property Taxation Administration

 161. 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 the options for a homeowner (details supplied) in County Wexford having discovered errors after making their local property tax return; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33092/13]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am advised by Revenue that any valuation amendments to Local Property Tax Returns must be in writing and must be supported by the appropriate evidence to explain or prove the need to decrease the value. Evidence can be in the form of recent sales or advertised house prices in the area, professional valuations or house price surveys for the area. On the specific case raised by the Deputy, I am advised that Revenue has already been in direct contact with the person in question and the address of the property has been amended as requested. Revenue has also advised the person on the correct procedure in regard to amending the valuation of a property.

  Question No. 162 answered with Question No. 160.


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