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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 80-87
 Header Item Illegal Moneylenders
 Header Item Credit Unions Regulation
 Header Item Business Regulation
 Header Item Job Creation Data
 Header Item Economic Growth

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 854 No. 3

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Written Answers Nos. 80-87

  Question No. 80 answered with Question No. 61.

Illegal Moneylenders

 81. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the number availing of legal and illegal moneylenders over the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39745/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I have been advised by the Central Bank that it does not regularly publish figures in relation to customers of legal moneylenders.  

However, in its Report on the Licensed Moneylending Industry published in November 2013, the Bank said that customer numbers have increased from approximately 300,000 in 2005 to around 360,000 at present and outstanding loan amounts are in the region of €200 million. This report is available on the Central Bank's website at http://www.centralbank.ie/regulation/processes/consumer-protection-code/compliance-monitoring/Documents/Report%20on%20the%20Licensed%20Moneylending%20Industry%20November%202013j.pdf.

  Neither I nor the Central Bank has any role in relation to the regulation of illegal moneylending and the Central Bank has informed me that it reports any such suspicions to the Gardaí.  Illegal money lending is a criminal offence and a matter for An Garda Síochána to investigate.  Just as my colleague the Minister of State at the Department of Finance did in the House last week, I would strongly encourage every Deputy to ask that anybody who has information about the operation of unlicensed moneylenders makes it available to the Garda Síochána, whose duty it is to enforce the law in this area.

  Questions Nos. 82 and 83 answered with Question No. 76.

Credit Unions Regulation

 84. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan his views on allowing established lenders such as credit unions apply risk-based pricing to their loans and charge a higher rate for higher and invariably smaller risks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39750/14]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan As the Deputy will be aware the Relationship Frameworks we have in place for the banks provide that the State will not intervene in the day-to-day operations of the State supported banks or their management decisions. Neither the Central Bank nor the Department of Finance has a statutory function in relation to interest rate decisions made by individual lending institutions at any particular time.

Credit unions must comply with the requirements on interest on loans as set out under Section 38 of the Credit Union Act, 1997.  This section provides that the interest charged on a loan to a credit union member shall not at any time exceed one per cent per month on the amount of the loan outstanding, and that the rate of interest charged on any class of loans granted at a particular time shall be the same for all loans of the class.

The Registrar of Credit Unions at the Central Bank has informed me that it is a matter for individual credit unions to determine the interest rates they deem appropriate to the classes of loans provided, taking account of the specific legislative requirements.

Business Regulation

 85. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton in view of Ireland's recent fall in the World Bank's ease of doing business rankings, the policies being considered to make the regulatory environment more conducive to the inception and operation of indigenous businesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39382/14]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Firstly can I point out to the Deputy that Ireland's ranking has not fallen, Ireland is ranked 15th out of 189 in the 2014 report - unchanged from the 2013 report.

  As part of an overall goal of boosting Ireland's international competitiveness and making Ireland the best small country in the world in which to do business, the Government has put a process in place to identify practical steps that relevant Departments and agencies can take to address the ease of doing business in Ireland.

  In many respects, improving the ease of doing business offers the greatest potential to enhance our competitiveness, as improving administrative processes and practices are generally within the control of public bodies and do not necessarily require investment

  The World Bank's Doing Business project looks at domestic, primarily small and medium size companies and measures the regulations applying to them through their life cycle. It presents quantitative indicators on business regulation that can be compared across economies and over time. Doing Business goes beyond identifying that a problem exists and points to specific regulations or regulatory procedures that may lend themselves to reform.

  However, there are certain indicators in which there is much room for improvement. Ireland is quite far behind the leaders in dealing with construction permits (115th), getting electricity (100th), registering property (57th) and enforcing contracts (62nd).

  In response to the World Bank's Doing Business Report, the Government has put a process in place to ensure that

  (i) all of the information captured by the World Bank is accurate and timely;

  (ii) recent reforms to Irish regulations to enhance the ease of doing business are reflected in the index; and

  (iii) relevant Government departments identity and implement reforms to improve Ireland's performance.

  In addition, to continue the progress towards making Ireland the best small country to do businesses and to improve the ease of doing business, individual Government Departments have identified more than 50 specific actions which are currently in train, or which could be taken before the end of 2015, to make it easier for enterprises to transact their business with public bodies. The actions relate to headings such as streamlining administrative procedures; using technology to reduce the administrative burden; starting a business; reducing transaction costs; settling legal disputes; participation in public procurement.

  In my own Department we are engaged in a continuous process of reducing the timelines and burdens for starting and running a business. Initiatives we are taking include enabling electronic filing of returns to the Companies Registration Office, with 82% of all Annual Returns e-filed in 2013, introducing measures to make examinership procedures less costly, making it easier to apply for an audit exemption, introducing a range of innovations though our overhaul of the Companies Acts, reducing processing times for employment permits, our Workplace Relations Reforms and improving communications with businesses through our 'Taking Care of Business' fora.

Job Creation Data

 86. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of new jobs created indigenously and through foreign direct investment in the past three years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39636/14]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Government's Action Plan for Jobs is centred on rebuilding a sustainable economy based on enterprise and exports. Exporting companies supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through its agencies have recorded three strong years of employment growth, both in the creation of new jobs and in the terms of overall net change in employment when account is taken of job losses in the enterprise base. The Forfás Annual Employment Survey provides an analysis of employment levels in industrial and services companies under the remit of IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta.

The Forfás Annual Employment Survey for 2013 showed employment in enterprise development agency assisted companies at 303,155, an increase of 8,579 jobs in total permanent full-time employment. There was also an increase in part-time employment of 3,827 jobs to 46,167 in the same year. This continues the trend in positive employment growth since 2011. Total full-time employment and part time employment increased by 8,188 and 903 respectively in 2012 and by 4,338 and 2,707 respectively in 2011.

In terms of gross new jobs supported by the enterprise agencies, among indigenous firms there were 13,444 and 5,708 full and part time new or gross jobs created in 2013 respectively. In 2012 there were increases of 12,925 and 4,944 full and part time jobs respectively and 13,426 and 4,870 respectively in 2011.

In relation to new gross new jobs in foreign-owned firms, in 2013 there were 10,451 and 4,940 full and part time new jobs created respectively. In 2012 there were 12,982 and 4,827 full and part time new jobs created respectively, up from 12,503 and 5,413 full and part time new jobs created respectively in 2011.

Taking account of job losses among agency assisted firms provides the figures for the annual net change in employment. Among indigenous firms assisted by the enterprise development agencies the net change in full-time employment in 2013 was 4,361 and the net change in part employment was 1,765. In 2012 the net change in full and part time employment among indigenous agency supported firms was 2,408 and -103 respectively and the figures for 2011 were 500 net change in full time employment and 1,228 net change in part time employment.

Among foreign direct investment enterprises, the net change in full and part time employment in 2013 was 4,218 and 2,095 respectively, while in 2012 the net change was 5,780 and 1,006 in full and part time employment respectively. The figures for 2011 were a net change in full time employment of 3,838 and of 1,479 in part time employment.

Economic Growth

 87. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the extent to which it can be expected to encourage economic recovery broadly throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39637/14]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Ireland's economic success, creating jobs and growth throughout the country will depend on our ability to build up centres and regions that have the critical mass to compete internationally. Today, location decisions by companies (both foreign and indigenous) are not only considered in terms of the relative cost base, but also across a broader range of competitiveness factors. These include access to skills and talent, access to markets and customers, the innovative capacity and capability of the locale and a dynamic environment offering an attractive quality of life for a mobile workforce. These place based factors are important both from an FDI perspective and for our indigenous companies (including those who trade on the domestic market but increasingly come up against international competitors).

We need to ensure that the Greater Dublin Area continues to perform strongly as a key attractor of FDI and dynamic environment for internationally focused Irish owned firms and entrepreneurs. It is also vital that we enhance the competitiveness of our regions, and of the gateways as key drivers of regional development.

As set out in the Action Plan for Jobs 2014, my Department is developing action-oriented Regional Enterprise Development Strategies, starting with the Midlands and South East. The enterprise development agencies will continue to focus on stimulating business investment and on supporting enterprises throughout the regions. They deliver a range of programmes focused on the needs of the enterprise base, with the aim of addressing structural weaknesses and building capabilities in exporting and innovation and enhancing productivity. We will continue to work with other agencies and Departments to maximise each region's potential across a range of sectors and activities, including tourism, agri-food and retail. Earlier this year the Government, launched the nationwide system of 31 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), which reforms the system for delivery of State supports to micro and small enterprises and provides a first stop shop for local businesses. It is also important that national policies, including labour reactivation programmes and re-skilling translate into regional action.

My Department is working closely also with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government as they develop a new National Planning Framework (successor to the NSS) and prepare regional spatial and economic strategies (RSESs), as envisaged under the Local Government Reform Act 2014.

Following hard negotiations with the EU Commission on Regional Aid Guidelines, we increased the proportion of the country that is eligible for the full range of Government investment aid to businesses, meaning in effect that only Dublin, Cork, and areas directly bordering Dublin are excluded, a significant win in the context of the original proposals from the EU Commission.

Finally, one of the mechanisms by which we will directly support enterprise development at regional level is by building new property capacity in regional locations to help cater for FDI projects. IDA Ireland has started a number of building projects in Waterford and Athlone, and Letterkenny where the private sector is unable currently to provide property solutions.


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