Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
220. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he has contacted Irish Life, a company wholly owned by him, requesting staff whose annual salary is in excess of €200,000 to waive 15% of their salary or such amount in excess of €200,000 whichever is the lesser; and if he has, the date on which he first made this contact; the number of staff whose annual salaries were in excess of €200,000 at that date; the number of staff who acquiesced to the request for the waiver; the number of staff who refused the request for the waiver and the number of staff who have not responded to the request for the waiver. [49508/12]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I have not asked staff whose annual salaries are in excess of €200,000, of which there are currently 11, to waive a portion of their salaries. Irish Life is in a different position to the other financial institutions under our control in that it is profitable and operates in a very different competitive marketplace to the banks in which we have an interest. As the Deputy will be aware, we intend to sell Irish Life as soon as is practicable and in the meantime need to ensure that the board and management of the institution operate in a manner which will maximise the value for the taxpayer at sale.
221. Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider extending for a year the mortgage relief measures announced in Budget 2012 in view of the fact that we are only just starting to see the beginning of a possible recovery in the property market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49513/12]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): The position is, as I stated in my Budget day speech on 6 December 2011, and on many occasions in this House since, that mortgage interest relief for principal private residences will no longer be available to house purchasers who purchase after the end of 2012 and will be fully abolished from 2018. This means that a loan will have to be drawn down on or before 31 December 2012 in order to qualify for this relief. I have no plans to review this decision.
223. Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider in the upcoming budget the case of buy to let landlords in circumstances where the formula used to subtract losses from 25% of interest paid to the bank Budget 2011 may result in taxable gain; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49543/12]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I am assuming that the question relates to the interest restriction applying to residential lettings, whereby the deductibility of interest in computing taxable rental income from residential property (insofar as it would otherwise be allowable) is limited to 75% of such interest. This restriction was introduced in the April 2009 supplementary budget as part of an urgent revenue-raising package aimed at stabilising the public finances. The reduction in the level at which interest could be claimed for residential rental properties reduced the cost of this relief to the Exchequer by an estimated €95 million in a full year.
The context in which the 2009 measure was introduced, i.e. the need to stabilise public expenditure, still exists. Under the terms of the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland, the State is committed to further substantial reductions in public expenditure.
224. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if he will publish a schedule identifying all those financial institutions that have ultimate recourse to the German sovereign exchequer in the event of default which derived a benefit or which were protected from loss by the bank guarantee given by the then Government on behalf of the Irish people on 28 September 2010; if he will publish his estimate of the gain conferred on those institutions by way of the guarantee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49573/12]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I refer the Deputy to a previous answer with respect to our ability to identify bondholders. I confirm again that neither the banks nor the Government have an accurate means of establishing the underlying ownership of securities issued by the banks under the ELG as of a particular point in time. As these securities are freely tradable once issued it is not possible to trace their ultimate ownership. These securities are traded and dealt through market participants and settled by clearing house systems. An issuer does not have any access to the records of the clearing house. At maturity, the Bank will instruct its paying agent to transfer the funds due to the clearing house who will then distribute the funds to the holders of the securities as per their records. Even where the bank is presented with lists alleging to represent names of bondholders I am informed there is no way for the bank or anyone else to completely verify the accuracy of such lists. Unfortunately, this makes it impossible for me to answer your question directly. It is therefore not possible to provide you with a schedule of financial institutions with recourse to the German sovereign exchequer who may have been the holders of such securities.
225. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the measures he and the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation are taking to recover overseas property that was formerly in the name of the Quinn Group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49585/12]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I have been advised by IBRC that in High Court proceedings to recover the debts due to IBRC by the Quinns, the Bank has sought the direction of the Courts to proceed with the appointment of the Alfa Group Consortium, to recover the Russian assets and one Ukrainian asset of the Quinn International Property Group. All other overseas properties of this group have either been secured, or attempts are being made to do so, through the Courts in a range of jurisdictions.
226. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if Budget 2013 will require more cuts and taxes as growth rates have been reduced by his Department for next year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49586/12]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): My Department published its most recent 2013 growth forecast in late April, and projected real GDP growth of 2.2% for the year as a whole. Since those forecasts were published, the global economy has worsened and international forecasting agencies have revised down their growth forecasts for 2013 in most of Ireland’s trading partners. This is likely to lead to lower-than-previously expected demand for Irish exports, and my Department is likely to revise down its real GDP forecast for 2013. Nonetheless, the outturn for nominal GDP throughout 2012 has been better than expected in April and, broadly speaking, nominal developments drive revenue performance. The achievement of fiscal targets is driven by a range of factors, including overall economic performance as well as specific developments which effect revenue and expenditure patterns in a given year.
Despite likely lower growth this year than originally estimated at budget time, we are on track to meet fiscal targets. A similar situation arose in 2011. Real GDP growth in 2011 was a little lower than originally forecast in December 2010, but we still managed to meet all our fiscal targets without the need for additional consolidation measures during the course of 2011. My Department will publish revised economic and fiscal forecasts in the coming days.
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Generally speaking the statistics on incomes published by my Department in relation to income tax are based on tax cases. This is clearly stated in publications and in replies to Parliamentary Questions. The vast majority of married income earners choose to be assessed jointly as one tax unit for income tax purposes. While it may be possible, with the assistance of significant development to the existing computer-based databases and costing model, to produce income statistics for income tax based on individual earners, this is problematic for various reasons, in particular given the facility for married couples to transfer credits and, in part, the standard rate band.
It is therefore not possible to provide the Deputy with the information he has sought. The Deputy may, however, wish to refer to the reply to Parliamentary Question No 42354 answered on 3rd October 2012 which sets out the information currently available on the income distribution and tax liabilities of income earners estimated by reference to the income tax year 2012. Again the number of earners shown in the table in the reply counts a married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment as one tax unit. In the interests of consistency, I am reluctant to alter the way income tax statistics are currently presented. Furthermore, I am not convinced that presenting income tax statistics in a manner different to the way income tax is actually assessed and collected provides significant additional value.
228. Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Finance the current average effective rate of tax including PRSI and universal social charge of persons earning within the bands (details supplied) and the amount of additional revenue that would be collected if the nominal and effective rates were adjusted. [49624/12]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the full year yield, estimated by reference to 2012 incomes, that would result from increasing the nominal tax rates of income earners as proposed by the Deputy would be of the order of €859 million. A breakdown of the figures, by range of taxable income, is set out in the table.
It is assumed that the total existing nominal rate, as is indicated for the income range €90,000 - €100,000, is composed of an aggregate of the top USC rate of 7% and the top income tax rate of 41%. It is assumed PRSI is not taken into account. On that basis the proposed increases in the aggregate nominal rates commencing with income range €100,000 - €120,000 are assumed for the purpose of estimating the Exchequer yields to take the form of an increase in the top income tax rate of 41%, applying as 43% to taxable income range €100,000 - €120,000, as 48% applying to taxable income range €120,000 - €140,000, and successively increasing over the stated ranges to arrive at a rate of 71% applying to taxable income in excess of €1 million.
The results shown in the table for the nominal rate of 75% as proposed for a sequence of income ranges, commencing at €250,000 and concluding at €1,000,000, have of necessity been presented in the table as a single range to reflect the method of estimation by the Revenue tax-forecasting model. I am also advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the full year yield, estimated by reference to 2012 incomes, that would result from increasing the effective tax rates of income earners as proposed by the Deputy would be of the order of €1.3 billion. A breakdown of the figures by range of gross income, is set out in the table.
It should be noted that the figures for tax and effective tax rate include income tax, PRSI and Universal Social Charge (USC). The figures are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2009 adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends in the interim. These are, therefore, provisional and likely to be revised. In addition, it should be noted that Gross Income is as defined in the Revenue Statistical Report 2010.
229. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance the fees that are paid to companies who provide property valuations for the National Asset Management Agency; the fees for this service that were paid in each of the years since NAMA was established; the persons who were the top ten recipients of these fees in each of the years since NAMA was established. [49629/12]
230. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a breakdown of the legal fees paid by the National Asset Management Agency to date in 2012; if he will provide a breakdown of the recipients of those fees including the amount each recipient received from NAMA; and for the total legal fees incurred by NAMA since its establishment. [49630/12]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 229 and 230 together.
NAMA informs me that it cannot provide all the details requested by the Deputy in the time available. NAMA has undertaken to provide me with this information within the next week and, accordingly, I will issue a reply to the Deputy at that stage.
231. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a breakdown of the legal fees incurred by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation in each year since its establishment. [49631/12]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I have been advised by IBRC that disclosure of this information is commercially sensitive. However, legal fees incurred by IBRC are included as part of Other Administrative Costs, or where applicable Exceptional Costs, as published in the Bank’s Annual Report & Accounts and Interim Report. The 2011 Annual Report & Accounts for IBRC show Other Administrative Costs of €108m and Exceptional Costs of €82m. However, these figures are not exclusively made up of legal fees. The H1 2012 Interim Report reflects Other Administrative Costs of €45m and Exceptional Costs of €25m.
232. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide in tabular form the amount currently being spent on, or budgeted for by State agencies under his remit for spending, on the areas of communication, public relations, consultancy, advertising and human resources; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49652/12]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): The information requested by the Deputy could not be collated in the time available. My Department will respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.
233. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance the consultation that has taken place between Revenue and fuel retailers relevant to the fees charged and the new regulations in respect of a fuel traders licence; if consideration was given to the costs involved for smaller operators in this sector relevant to the new compliance requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49691/12]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners, who have responsibility for mineral oil product taxation, that the introduction of the fuel traders’ license is a key component in combating non-compliance in the fuel sector. Illegal activity in this area, particularly the criminal activity associated with laundering marked fuel, imposes significant costs on the community and poses a serious threat to tax yield and to legitimate businesses. As part of its strategy to curb illegal activity in this area, earlier this year Revenue introduced strengthened licensing requirements for traders in auto fuels and a new licensing requirement for traders in marked fuel oil from 1 October 2012. In addition, from January 2013, there will be a new requirement for all fuel traders to make monthly returns of oil movements. These requirements are considered essential in protecting legitimate traders and curbing illegal activity. The licence fee is a flat rate excise duty of €250 and it applies to traders licensed to keep, deliver, deal in or sell marked fuel and auto fuel in respect of each premises from which they operate. This rate has not changed since 2001.
235. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance the number of licensed premises in the State; the number of pubs and the turnover breakdown of these pubs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49741/12]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the statistics provided below relate to Liquor Licences issued for the sale of liquor in the state up to 30th September 2012. “Off” Licences are issued either singularly such as “Wine Retailer’s Off Licence” or in combinations such as Spirits and/or beer, and/or wine. “Off” licences can also be issued in combination with Wholesale Dealer licences. Therefore, the figures below reflect the actual number of each category of licence issued during the last licensing year (1st October 2011 to 30th September 2012) and cannot be taken to reflect either numbers of licensees or premises. Other licensed premises such as Private Member Clubs are dealt with by the District Courts and are not the subject of Revenue record.
The Deputy may wish to note that statistical annual data of this nature is available on the Revenue website www.revenue.ie <http://www.revenue.ie and the link to specific data in relation to excise is at http://www.revenue.ie/en/about/publications/statistical/2010/index.html. Current year data regarding liquor licences, which includes premises and licensee information and is updated on a monthly basis, is available at; http://www.revenue.ie/en/tax/excise/index.html.
236. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance if he has given any consideration to the introduction of a levy on alcohol products which are sold unopened; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49783/12]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I wish to advise the Deputy that I am always willing to examine new sources of revenue whether presented by my own Department or from outside through the pre-Budget process. That said the Deputy should be aware that EU Directive 92/93, which governs the structure of alcohol taxation, requires that such taxes are applied by reference to the nature and strength of the product rather than the means of packaging.
237. Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance if the rule of 78 method of calculating interest regulated is banned here for hire purchase or leasing agreements, loans or mortgages; if he will specify where it can or cannot be used on financial transactions; if he will indicate the legislation and sections therein that regulate this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49798/12]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): The Central Bank has advised me that Section 52 (1) of Part V of the Consumer Credit Act 1995, as amended, states that "a consumer is entitled to discharge the consumer’s obligation under an agreement at any time before the time fixed by the agreement for its termination." This applies to any agreement other than a housing loan. Section 52 (3) of the Act states that “where the consumer exercises the entitlement, the creditor or owner shall allow a reduction in the total cost of credit under the agreement." Section 52 (6) of the Consumer Credit Act 1995, states that "the Minister for Finance may, after consulting the Bank, make a regulation prescribing a method or formula for calculating the reduction in the total cost of credit under agreements generally or any class of agreement." In the absence of such a regulation, the Rule of 78, which deals with agreements whose cost is calculated at the outset of the loan, is commonly used to calculate the amount of the rebate due in the event of the early repayment of the agreement.
However, since the introduction of the EC (Consumer Credit Agreements) Regulations 2010 (SI No. 281 of 2010) on 11 June 2010, Sections 52 and 53 of the Act will not apply to credit agreements entered into from that date, that fall within the scope of the Regulations. This is due to the dis-application of those sections by virtue of Regulation 4 of SI No. 281 of 2010. Regulation 4(2) dis-applies Part V of the Act to credit agreements that fall within the scope of the SI. Regulation 19 of SI No. 281 of 2010 sets out the requirements in relation to early repayment.
238. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 135 on 23 October 2012, if he will confirm if the awarding of the loan sale advisory contract to UBS by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation under the banks structured procurement process followed the same tendering process as referred to in the answer to Parliamentary Question No. 133 of 23 October, 2012 including where a request for quotation was published on Official Journal of the European Union; if he will confirm if this was not the same tendering process for the appointment of UBS; the reason IBRC adopted a different tendering process for the awarding of the contract to UBS; if he will confirm the number of competing bidders against UBS for the contract with IBRC; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49803/12]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I have been advised that IBRC cannot disclose details regarding individual appointments of advisors relating to any commercially sensitive areas of activity such as the ongoing analysis, sale or recovery of individual loans or loan portfolios. The Bank adheres to a structured procurement process for the appointment of all its advisors. This procurement process is open, objective and transparent and is subject to the Bank’s governance processes including oversight through a regular reporting process by the main Board of the Bank. I have been advised that with regards to the appointment of this particular advisor, a request for quotation was not published on the Official Journal of the European Union as the public disclosure of appointments of this nature could have a negative impact on the Bank’s efforts to maximize loan recoveries. The Bank can confirm however that IBRC’s procurement policy was adhered to.
239. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 138 of 23 October 2012, if he will confirm irrespective of his statement that the secondment of a person (details supplied) into Irish Bank Resolution Corporation should not be adversely inferred as a lack of confidence by him in the management or board of the bank; if it is the case that he retains confidence in the management and the board of IBRC; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49804/12]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I can confirm that the appointment of this person to IBRC does not in any way reflect a lack of confidence by me in the management or board of the bank. The appointment has proved to be very beneficial for both IBRC and my Department by improving communication between the organisations. I am fully confident in the management and the board of IBRC and I am satisfied that the new appointment is a positive step in the continuing goal of winding down IBRC and maximising the eventual return to the taxpayer.
240. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm the total nominal amount in euro of Anglo Irish Bank subordinated bonds that were governed by English Law that were subsequently subjected to a subordinated debt buy back in November and December 2010; if he will confirm the total nominal amount in euro of Irish Nationwide subordinated bonds, Irish Life and Permanent subordinated bonds and Allied Irish Banks subordinated bonds that were governed by English Law that were subsequently subjected to subordinated debt buy backs in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49805/12]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): The requested institutions have supplied me with the following information:
241. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance if he will detail the total nominal amount in euro of Irish Government bonds which are governed by English Law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49806/12]
Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Two of the NTMA’s borrowing programmes for the issuance of Irish Government debt are governed by English law, namely, the Euro Medium-Term Notes (EMTN) Programme, of which €96 million was outstanding at 31 October 2012, and the Euro Commercial Paper (ECP) Programme, of which €1.212 billion was outstanding at 31 October 2012.
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