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Written Answers. - Companies Office Policy.

Wednesday, 28 February 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 462 No. 3

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 102. Mr. B. O'Keeffe Information on Batt O'Keeffe Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton  if he has satisfied himself that the Companies Office is taking appropriate action against registered companies who fail to make annual returns; and the reason the Companies Office is not striking off companies who have not filed returns for over three years. [4137/96]

Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. R. Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I take it the Deputy's question arises from my replies to supplementary points he raised in the context of Question No. 33 on 10 October 1995 (Volume 456, No. 6, columns 1444/50). Since then, the “Companies Report” for July 1993 to December 1994 has been published and [800] that report adverts, inter alia, to the subject matter raised by the Deputy. There is no question of the Companies Office having a policy of not striking off companies which have failed to make the statutory annual returns for over three years. The companies report outlines the various enforcement actions of the Office. Official striking-off is only one of the possible actions. The report also adverts at page 29 to the rates of statutory compliance by companies. Essentially, a four-pronged approach has been adopted to improve filing rates in the Companies Office using the law as it currently stands. In 1996, it is proposed to petition the courts to disqualify directors who neglect their filing responsibilites. Thus, current enforcement measures include: a statutory “late-filing fee”; prosecution of companies; prosecution of directors; company strike-offs, and most recently, proposed disqualification of directors for failure to file returns.

At the registrar's direction, 5,607 were struck off the register in 1992, 13,087 in 1993, 4,025 in 1994 and 14,351 in 1995.

The initiative of the “late-filing fee” resulted in a considerable number of companies bringing their affairs up to date. By way of illustration, 28,000 annual returns were filed in the immediate run-up to the introduction of the fee in October 1993; in October 1994, 13,000 annual returns were filed and in October 1995, over 10,000 annual returns were filed. These figures compare with an average monthly intake of some 5,500 returns.

In 1992, 593 companies were prosecuted for failure to file returns, 2,341 in 1993, 1,979 in 1994 and 626 in 1995.

In 1993, a decision was taken by the registrar to commence prosecution of individual directors of companies in respect of their personal failure to ensure the filing of statutory documents. As a result, 40 were prosecuted in 1993, 103 in 1994 and 116 in 1995.

In my replies to Question No. 6 on 25 January 1996 (Volume 460, No. 5, columns 1318/24) and to Question No. 36 [801] on 21 November 1995 (Volume 458, No. 5, columns 924/5), I outlined a series of improvements which are planned for the Companies Registration Office over the next few years. In the overall, I am satisfied that the enforcement activity by the Companies Office is leading to the creation of a climate of increased awareness in the business world of the statutory filing obligations on registered companies.

 103. Mr. B. O'Keeffe Information on Batt O'Keeffe Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton  his views on the IDA's strategy of focusing on electronic jobs in this country and on the likely wholesale scaling-down of capacity by multinational firms. [1698/96]

Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. R. Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton To be successful, IDA Ireland has to market the elements of Ireland which can credibly support industrial investment. IDA Ireland must match national advantages, in terms of competitiveness, with the business sectors which suit Ireland's skills.

IDA Ireland is following a clear policy of being first with the industry leaders in emerging technologies. In 1995 a total of 22 electronics projects, greenfield and expansion, were announced by IDA Ireland. These have an employment potential of approximately 7,000 jobs.

IDA Ireland focuses on the electronics sector because Ireland offers to companies a competitive mix of skills, costs and financial advantages. The industry is important to Ireland because it is one which can best meet our economic objectives. It is a sector which has grown at a remarkable pace over the last 20 years. Over one third of total employment in IDA assisted companies in 1995 was in the electronics sector. The sector is relatively new and like all new/innovative sectors there is constant change and volatility:

—change in technological terms, which sees relatively rapid obsolescence of today's technology.

[802]—change in individual company's fortunes, driven by both technological and competitive factors.

However, the effects of these changes can be minimised by innovation or diversification. Many leading companies of yesteryear have either had to carry out major internal restructuring or risk disappearing altogether. There is no immediate sign that this volatility will disappear, as new innovations such as networks, internet, multimedia telecommunications and superhighways are developed and commercialised.

The many successes in job creation in the electronics sector over the last number of years, and particularly in 1995, has raised the question of how we can assist in the maintenance of the high level of employment and of the creation of new opportunities.

The main requirement is a systematic and continuous way of assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the industry by the industrial development agencies, the industry itself and outside informed observers on the sector. Given the increasing importance of the electronics sector to industrial development and employment creation all segments of the sector are kept under review. My Department, IDA Ireland and Forfás in conjunction with outside analysts will continue to assess the electronics sector with a view to maximising its potential in the context of overall industrial development.


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