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Noonan, Michael

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 Nbr. 3


Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (Amendment) Bill 2011: Second Stage

I wish to share my time with Deputies Corcoran Kennedy and Spring.More Button

I thank Deputy Michael McGrath for proposing this important Bill, for his obviously thorough preparation and the presentations made by him and his colleagues tonight. Before I deal with the specif...More Button

The ombudsman exercises his independent statutory function, operating in a fair, balanced and transparent fashion and is responsible for ensuring that unresolved complaints from customers of financ...More Button

I will turn to the proposal before the House. I accept that the naming of financial service providers in certain circumstances will support the work of the Financial Services Ombudsman in effectiv...More Button

I would like to outline some important points regarding the development of this proposal, which will better inform the House regarding the objectives of the Bill and regarding some complexities sur...More Button

The ombudsman also suggested three safeguards that should be included in any legislation that would give him this power. The first safeguard was that he be given sole discretion as to whether or n...More Button

Following receipt of the letter from the Financial Services Ombudsman, my Department sought legal advice to help inform the deliberations to formulate a clear policy position. As the House can app...More Button

My Department requested that the Financial Services Ombudsman consult with industry to better inform the debate. In 2011, the Financial Services Ombudsman Bureau invited submissions from all inte...More Button

On 5 January 2012, the Financial Services Ombudsman wrote to my Department. In his letter, he referred to a number of the submissions in which concern was expressed as to how information on the co...More Button

In the Financial Services Ombudsman’s biannual reviews, information on findings is given in two forms. First, information is aggregated into three general categories: investment, banking and...More Button

The Financial Services Ombudsman is now proposing that the biannual review would provide a further breakdown of the information provided, by financial service provider. Accordingly, for each finan...More Button

The Financial Services Ombudsman has advised me that he would further engage with the industry to develop the most appropriate manner of presenting market share information for each relevant produc...More Button

While the Government fully supports the policy objective underlying this Bill, the provisions on naming, if not carefully crafted, could have negative implications for both consumers and financial ...More Button

I support the Bill’s principle and will bring legislative proposals to the Government reflecting the policy outlined in this speech. I thank Deputy Michael McGrath for raising the important ...More Button

The Government will not oppose the Bill. When I bring forward legislative proposals I may be able to attach them to one of the Bills I am sponsoring which is already on Second Stage. Alternativel...More Button

Written Answers - Disabled Drivers

Was asked: the criteria used for the purposes of issuing a primary care certificate; when these criteria were set; when the criteria are set for review; if there are any circumstances where the criteria can b...More Button

The disability criteria for eligibility for the tax concessions under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme are set out in the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passenge...More Button

The Senior Medical Officer (SMO) for the relevant local Health Service Executive administrative area makes a professional clinical determination as to whether an individual applicant satisfies the ...More Button

A special Interdepartmental Review Group reviewed the operation of the Disabled Drivers Scheme. The terms of reference of the Group were to examine the operation of the existing scheme, including ...More Button

The Group’s Report, published on my Department’s website in July 2004, sets out in detail the genesis and development of the scheme. It examines the current benefits, the qualifying me...More Button

In respect of the long-term recommendations, including the qualifying disability criteria, given the scale and scope of the scheme, further changes can only be made after careful consideration. Fo...More Button

Written Answers - Official Engagements

Was asked: if he will publish a schedule of all communications, written and verbal, and all encounters he, or officials of his Department, or officials of agencies for which his Department is accountable, has...More Button

As Minister for Finance I meet with a wide range of individuals and firms from various sectors. These interactions provide a useful forum for exchanges of views. It allows me to set out for investo...More Button

In relation to the firm referred to in the Deputy’s question, I have not met directly with them since my appointment as Minister for Finance. However, I along with Ministers from other count...More Button

As previously advised, Goldman Sachs was engaged by the NTMA following a competitive tender in April 2011 as external advisor for the liability management exercises and capital raising transactions...More Button

Written Answers - Pension Provisions

Was asked: the pension arrangements for the ten top National Treasury Management Agency and ten top National Asset Management Agency executives and if the remuneration from these pensions was altered or incre...More Button

I am informed by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) that NTMA employees are members of the NTMA defined benefit superannuation scheme or else have Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (...More Button

I am also informed by the Agency that performance-related payments do not count towards the calculation of pension benefits which are derived from base salary. Gifting of a proportion of salary to...More Button

Was asked: if he will review a pension issue (details supplied). More Button

The position is that an individual liable to income tax on his or her social welfare pension is entitled to the PAYE tax credit against the tax due on that pension providing, of course, that the PA...More Button

Was asked: if he is investigating recent assertions that companies are offering early draw down of pension savings (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: if Ireland is losing tax revenue due to the early draw down of pensions referred to in a publication (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Was asked: if, in view of the fact that companies are offering early draw down of pension funds that he will reconsider legislating for the early draw down of AVCs and personal pension schemes as previously r...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 134 to 136, inclusive, together. More Button

The transfer of an occupational pension scheme member’s pension fund benefits or a Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA) contributor’s PRSA assets to an overseas pension arrangemen...More Button

It is the responsibility of all trustees to ensure full compliance with the requirements of the Regulations. In essence, the Regulations require that, prior to making any overseas transfer payments...More Button

In practice, trustees and PRSA providers are required to obtain written confirmation to that effect from the trustees, custodians, managers or administrators of the overseas arrangement to which th...More Button

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that if the transfer is to another EU Member State, Revenue rules require the overseas scheme to be operated or managed by an Institution for Occupational ...More Button

If the transfer is to a country outside the EU, under Revenue rules a transfer may not be made to a country other than the one in which the member is currently employedMore Button

I am also advised by the Revenue Commissioners that in late 2009, they introduced an additional approval condition for all existing and new retirement benefit schemes and PRSAs to the effect that a...More Button

Tax relief given on pension savings is intended to encourage individuals to save for the long-term with a view to providing them with an income in retirement. That is why our tax rules, like those ...More Button

Issues relating to an apparent increase in requests for transfers of Irish pension funds abroad, following newspaper advertisements encouraging such actions in order to access tax-free cash early, ...More Button

I am not in a position at this point to comment on the tax revenue implications, if any, of the issues raised in connection with the apparent increase in transfer payment requests.More Button

The question of pre-retirement access to Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) and personal pension plans is a separate matter and I have recently set out my position in this regard to the Depu...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Collection

Was asked: if he will consider correspondence (details supplied) concerning the issuing of a P60; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have contacted the employer concerned and have been advised that the delay relates to technical problems with the production of the forms....More Button

Your enquiry about the government’s intention to impose further pay cuts to teachers’ salaries vis-a-vis a cumulative reduction of 20% of teachers’ allowances by 2014 is a matter ...More Button

Was asked: if he will ensure that a P60 is issued to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have contacted the employer concerned and have been advised that form P60 will be issued to the person concerned next week.More Button

Written Answers - Banking Sector Regulation

Was asked: the current staffing levels at PTSB; the number of staff that has been made redundant since 2008; the current remuneration of the Board of Directors including the CEO and the remuneration in 2008; ...More Button

I am advised that staffing levels in Permanent TSB bank stood at 2,243 (headcount) as at 29th February last. This figure includes staff that were recently transferred from Irish Nationwide Buildin...More Button

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. However, I can...More Button

Finally, I am acutely aware of the need to ensure that costs in the State owned banks are managed and controlled appropriately. The Department of Finance maintains an active dialogue with the bank ...More Button

Written Answers - National Treasury Management Agency

Was asked: his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the National Asset Management Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

NAMA has a commercial mandate to obtain the best achievable financial return on behalf of the State. It has emphasised repeatedly that one of its objectives is to instigate the sale of properties b...More Button

In some cases, potential purchasers may disagree with NAMA-approved pricing. I am informed by NAMA that it is open to discussion with any potential purchaser on the sale of particular properties b...More Button

It is not appropriate that details of individual sales transactions should be divulged or discussed in public. However, the Deputy will be aware that NAMA has set up a dedicated e-mail address, ...More Button

Section 221 applies where a person communicates with NAMA on behalf of another person with the intention of influencing the making of a decision in relation to the performance of the functions of N...More Button

Written Answers - Betting Regulations

Was asked: the level of potential revenue losses to the Exchequer as a result of on-line betting; and if he will consider addressing the issue. More Button

The proposed Betting (Amendment) Bill, which is being drafted at present, will amend the 1931 Betting Act to inter alia establish the regulatory framework for the licensing of remote bookmakers and...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Code

Was asked: if he will provide a breakdown at today's prices of the amount of VAT, tax, charges and so on taken out of every €10 of diesel and petrol; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the breakdown of Mineral Oil Tax, Carbon Tax and VAT out of €10 of petrol and auto-diesel at average prices is as follows: More Button

The Mineral Oil Tax and Carbon Tax amounts were calculated using an average price of 166.9 cent per litre for petrol and 159.9 cent per litre for auto-diesel.More Button

Was asked: if a person (details supplied) in County Cork is liable to pay the universal social charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that their records indicate that this individual is not exempt from the Universal Social Charge (USC) based on the quantum of his income, as returned by hi...More Button

Was asked: the escalating price of petrol at the pumps, if he will considering reducing excise duty. More Button

Was asked: his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding taxation issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 138 and 153 together. More Button

Ireland, as with other countries, has experienced an increase in the cost of petrol and auto-diesel. The increase in fuel prices is an international phenomenon. Fuel prices are driven by a number o...More Button

The excise rates (including the carbon charge) in Ireland on motor fuels are 58.8 cent per litre of petrol and 47.9 cent per litre of auto-diesel. However, our rates remain lower than many of our m...More Button

The Exchequer yield from excise, as excise is set at a nominal amount, does not increase as the price of fuels increase. On the other hand, the yield from VAT per litre of fuel, as VAT is set as a ...More Button

It should also be noted that businesses are of course entitled to reclaim VAT incurred on their business inputs, including VAT incurred on fuel. For example, VAT incurred on auto-diesel and marked ...More Button

There are no plans for temporary taxation adjustments, as to do so, could lead to significant costs to the Exchequer. The issue of rising fuel prices was discussed by EU Finance Ministers at an ECO...More Button

Was asked: if an error was made when 0.6% was deducted in annual stamp duty from a pension fund, which matured on 29 December 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

An annual stamp duty levy of 0.6% applies in each of the four years from 2011 to 2014 to the market value of assets under management in pension funds and pension plans approved under Irish tax legi...More Button

I do not have the full details of the pension fund to which the Deputy refers in his question. However, since retirement benefits were not taken from the pension fund until 29 December 2011, the s...More Button

Question No. 153 answered with Question No. 138.More Button

Was asked: if he will make arrangements to provide citizens with annual personal taxation statements providing a breakdown of the way moneys raised by way of income tax are spent by the State; and if he will ...More Button

The Revised Estimates Volume, which was presented to the Oireachtas on 23 February, contains a full and detailed breakdown of every area of public spending. I should add that this year, the Book o...More Button

The Government also publishes Exchequer Statements each month which sets out the Central Government current and capital account receipts and expenditure, tax and non-tax revenue receipts.More Button

In addition, my Department each year prepares detailed accounts of the Central Fund known as the Finance Accounts. These are the most comprehensive set of accounts published by the Government and ...More Button

It should be noted that every taxpayer in the State is already provided annually with a document detailing the amount of income tax and Universal Social Charge that has been paid. This is provided...More Button

I believe that the Deputy’s request comes on foot of the United Kingdom’s Chancellor of the Exchequer recent announcement that he plans to provide personal tax statements in 2014 to eve...More Button

I should point out that this would also be a significant overhead and costs for the Irish Revenue Commissioners entailing individual statements being sent out to over 2 million taxpayers.More Button

However, as I stated in respect to a similar request, to an opposition recommendation submitted during the Committee Stage in the Seanad of the Finance Bill 2012, I have asked the Revenue Commissio...More Button

Written Answers - Departmental Strategies

Was asked: his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

A report setting out a Strategy for Financial Inclusion was published on my Department’s website in June 2011. The main operational recommendation from the report was the proposed introductio...More Button

It was noted in the Strategy for Financial Inclusion report that the post office network has the potential to play a key role in the delivery of basic payment accounts. However the delivery of a ba...More Button

Written Answers - Departmental Staff

Was asked: if he will provide a list of staff in his Department that serve as directors of companies arising from their employment; the names of the companies involved; the annual remuneration received, if an...More Button

In response to the Deputy’s question no staff in my Department serve as directors of companies arising from their employment. More Button

I understand from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform that the Office of the Attorney General has advised that people working for the State are entitled to be indemnified for such work....More Button

Was asked: the number of positions that have been filled in his Department from Assistant Principal upwards since taking office; the number of the available positions that were filled by existing staff and th...More Button

The table outlines the number of positions that have been filled by promotion in my Department from Assistant Principal upwards since I took office on 9 March 2011. Under the Ministers and Secreta...More Button

In selecting staff for appointment to higher grades, staff must demonstrate the requisite merit in their current jobs, as well as displaying the required capacity in the key competencies for the pa...More Button

The overall staffing levels in my Department is determined within the context of the staffing levels governed by the Employment Control Framework (ECF) for the Department currently in place. The f...More Button

Written Answers - Ministerial Expenses

Was asked: the amount of expenses claimed on a monthly basis since March 2011 by all Ministers attached to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

In response to the Deputy’s question the following table gives details of mileage and subsistence claimed by me since March 2011:More Button

Written Answers - Haulage Sector

Was asked: his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding road haulage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

A fuel rebate system could not under EU law be restricted to Irish licensed hauliers but would have to be extended to all vehicles intended exclusively for the carriage of goods by road with a maxi...More Button

Written Answers - National Asset Management Agency

Was asked: the amount of cash reserves currently held by the National Assets Management Agency; the nature of the account in which the money is deposited; the rate of return being earned; and if he will make ...More Button

I am advised by NAMA that it currently holds cash balances of €4.3 billion. NAMA have advised me that cash is either placed on deposit with approved counterparties or the Central Bank or it i...More Button

The rate of return on cash held in whatever form during the first quarter of 2012 was 1.1%. However, this should be viewed against a background of a reduction in Euro interest rates and in the con...More Button

Was asked: if he will provide details of the number of inquiries and formal applications made to National Asset Management Agency by debtors and tenants for a rent reduction prior to the issuing by NAMA of th...More Button

Was asked: if he will provide details of the number of inquiries and formal applications made to National Asset Management Agency by debtors and tenants for a rent reduction since the issuing by NAMA of the G...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 141 and 142 together. More Button

NAMA issued a Guidance Note on Upward Only Commercial Leases on 6 December 2011. The Guidance Note was intended to deal with situations where tenants of NAMA debtors could show that the rents they...More Button

NAMA points out that, prior to issuing the guidance note; it had received and approved a substantial number of applications for rent abatements which it had processed on an informal basis. I am ad...More Button

I am further advised that, since 6 December 2011, NAMA has received 40 applications for rent abatements under the terms of the Guidance Note. Five of these applications were approved. Another two...More Button

Was asked: if he will provide a detailed list of the assets and holdings of companies (details supplied) that are assets in loans transferred to the National Assets Management Agency More Button

Was asked: if he will provide a detailed list of the assets and holdings of County Mayo based construction companies that are assets in loans transferred to the National Assets Management Agency. More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 143 and 144 together. More Button

Properties under the control of receivers or other insolvency professionals appointed by NAMA are listed on its website at http://www.nama.ie/PropertiesEnforced.php. The site includes prope...More Button

In the case of property under the control of debtors, NAMA is precluded, under Section 202 of the NAMA Act 2009, from disclosing confidential information. Confidential information is specifically ...More Button

However, in cases where NAMA receives enquiries from potential purchasers about specific properties under the control of debtors, it can facilitate contact with a view to enabling sales transaction...More Button

Written Answers - Consultancy Contracts

Was asked: if the external investigation into his Department’s €3.6 billion accounting error was completed on the 16 of March 2012 as agreed in the “Terms of Reference for External Review”; when he...More Button

Was asked: the fee he agreed with a company (details supplied) for latter’s work in completing the external review of his Department's €3.6 billion accounting error. More Button

Was asked: further to the former Department Secretary General Kevin Cardiff’s confirmation on 11 January 2012 that an Internal Review into the Department's €3.6 billion accounting error had been ca...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 145 to 147, inclusive, together.More Button

The Deputy will be aware that Deloitte Consultants have been appointed to undertake an External Review of the €3.6bn General Government Debt issue. A fixed price of €50,000 has been agre...More Button

At this stage, the work of the External Review is well under way and I understand that the consultants are likely to complete their work in the course of next week.More Button

In regard to the Internal Report, it is my understanding that this work is near completion following its circulation to relevant parties involved, who were given sufficient time to provide their fi...More Button

Following consideration by the Government, it is my intention, subject to legal advice and in a timely manner, to send the Internal Report and the External Review to the Committee of Public Account...More Button

As previously highlighted in questions on this matter, it has to be recognised that while this matter was most regrettable, it was a statistical reporting discrepancy where our debt level was mista...More Button

Written Answers - General Government Debt

Was asked: further to Parliamentary Question No. 137 of 6 March 2012, if he will detail the amount the buy-out contract between the National Roads Authority and National Toll Roads of Westlink is capitalised ...More Button

Buying out the West Link Toll Bridge in 2008 allowed the removal of the toll plaza on the Westlink and its replacement by a barrier free tolling arrangement which facilitated the upgrading of the M...More Button

As outlined in Figure 12, page 18, of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Annual Report 2011, the amount outstanding was €433m in 2010, and this amount is used in the calculation of th...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Services Regulation

Was asked: if he and the regulator will hold the company board and leadership to account in relation to the loss of clients’ funds and if he will ask the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement ...More Button

Following the collapse of Home Payments (HPL) the Central Bank commenced an investigation into the matter. Home Payments Limited (“HPL”) was not authorised or licensed by the Central Bank of Irela...More Button

The Government is committed to introducing an effective regulatory/supervisory system for those firms which provide a household budgeting, and debt management and/or debt advice services.More Button

My officials are working with the Central Bank to provide for this regime and I will seek Government approval to include the provision as an amendment to the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforceme...More Button

Was asked: his plans to ensure that persons will not be exposed to having to pay exorbitant rates of interest when they borrow money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Illegal money lending is a criminal offence and a matter for An Garda Síochána to investigate. Licensed moneylenders are subject to strict legislative requirements. In this regard, ...More Button

Interest rate caps for licensed moneylenders are not provided for in law there are no interest rate caps applied by the Central Bank apart from the interest rate cap imposed on the credit u...More Button

Written Answers - State Banking Sector

Was asked: the extent to which he can involve himself in negotiations with the IBOA and AIB senior management to deliver a fair and reasonable outcome in a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a sta...More Button

The Deputy will be aware that AIB, as part of its announcement of 8th March 2012 of a voluntary severance programme, stated “as required under the bank’s partnership principles with IBOA, a c...More Button

I have been at pains to point out, in any public pronouncements on the issue, that all parties involved in this most sensitive of issues for individuals need to be treated with utmost consideration...More Button

As for any group of workers whose positions are being made redundant, the services of the State will be available to assist them across a range of issues including employment support services, educ...More Button

Any such supports will supplement the facilities being put in place by the employer. The exact nature of the supports will be determined by the particular circumstances.More Button

Written Answers - Tax Reliefs

Was asked: if strong consideration can be given, in view of the recent measures announced in the UK budget, to the introduction of new measures and the strengthening of existing ones to ensure Ireland maintai...More Button

Section 481 film relief is one of the longest running sector specific tax reliefs and was first introduced in the Finance Act of 1987 to support the indigenous film sector. Finance Act 2011 provid...More Button

I have asked my Department to undertake a review later this year in order to inform future policy making in relation to the scheme. I do not intend to make any major adjustments to the scheme prio...More Button

Written Answers - Currency Exchange

Was asked: the amount of Irish Punts currency still in circulation; the amount still not converted to euros; and if he will make a statement on the matter. More Button

Irish pound notes and coins ceased to be legal tender with effect from 9 February 2002. Of the Irish pound notes and coins remaining in circulation at that point, IR£185m in banknotes and IR...More Button

Written Answers - Currency Circulation

Was asked: the amount of Irish punts currency in circulation in the years 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001. More Button

The information requested by the Deputy is set out as follows:More Button

Value (IR£m)More Button

Written Answers - National Lottery Funding

Was asked: if he will confirm the amount of National Lottery funds allocated to his Department; if the funds are spent on specific projects; if so, the name of the project; if the National Lottery fund is all...More Button

My Department does not receive any funding from the National Lottery.More Button

Written Answers - Appointments to State Boards

Was asked: if he will provide a full breakdown by gender of all appointments to State boards since February 2011; the current status of State boards in relation to the percentage of participation of women and...More Button

In response to the Deputy’s question in the period in question 5 appointments made to the Fiscal Advisory Council. Of the five members appointed four were males including the Chairperson. I...More Button

In respect of the remaining bodies under the remit of my Department the current gender make up of each board is contained in the following table:More Button

Written Answers - Departmental Equipment

Was asked: the number of laptops in use in his Department; the number of tablets in use in his Department; the number of the laptops in use that are due to be upgraded this year; and if he will make a stateme...More Button

IT is now provided on a shared service basis between the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Finance. There are 55 laptops and 1 tablet in use across the two Departme...More Button

Laptops are not upgraded, they are replaced when they fail.More Button