McCreevy, Charlie

Thursday, 17 December 1998

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 498 Nbr. 6


Comptroller and Auditor General and Committees of Houses of the Oireachtas (Special Provisions Act), 1998: Motion

I move:More Button

That Dáil Éireann, having been apprised of prima facie evidence of a substantial risk to the revenues of the State by means of the Interim Reports of the Committee of Public Ac...More Button

A. under section 2(1) of the Comptroller and Auditor General and Committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Special Provisions), Act, 1998 ('the Special Provisions Act'), and in exercise of the po...More Button

(1) carry out such examinations and investigations as he considers appropriate of the affairs and the books of account and other records in any form and other documents in respect of the period 1 J...More Button

(2) carry out such examinations under section 3(7) of the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act, 1993, and such other examinations and investigations as he considers appropriate,More Button

(3) if the Comptroller considers it necessary to do so for the purpose of the performance of his or her functions under the Special Provisions Act, appoint an auditor to carry out on his behalf and...More Button

(4) examine any report under section 2(2) of the Special Provisions Act furnished to him by an auditor appointed under section 2(1) of that Act and, if he considers it appropriate to do so, discuss...More Button

(i) to ascertain—More Button

(I) whether the books of account, records and documents aforesaid are complete and accurate in so far as they relate to the deposits, the interest, and the amounts representing income tax, aforesai...More Button

(II) whether the Revenue Commissioners have taken appropriate steps to satisfy themselves as to whether those institutions have complied with the said Chapter IV, the said Chapter 4 and the said se...More Button

(III) whether those institutions have complied with any other relevant provisions of the Tax Acts (within the meaning of the Corporation Tax Act, 1978, and the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997) in res...More Button

(IV) if there is a shortfall in the amount paid by those institutions under the said Chapter IV and the said Chapter 4 in respect of the said amounts representing income tax, the reasons for and th...More Button

(ii) ascertain whether systems, procedures and practices have been established that are adequate to secure an effective check on the assessment and collection and proper allocation of the amounts a...More Button

(iii) to satisfy himself as to whether the manner in which the systems, procedures and practices aforesaid have been employed and applied in relation to such interest and amounts representing incom...More Button

(5) ascertain the information known or which might reasonably be expected to have been known or available to the financial institutions, aforesaid, the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Fin...More Button

(6) ensure that any report furnished by him pursuant to the Special Provisions ActMore Button

(a) sets out such facts and evidence as he deems appropriate; andMore Button

(b) facilitates the efficient, effective and expeditious completion of the hearings by the Committee of Public Accounts as defined in the Special Provisions Act into the matters aforesaid.More Button

B. the Comptroller should, at his discretion, determine the order and manner in which his examinations and investigations of the financial institutions and the other matters aforesaid, will be carr...More Button

C. the Comptroller should perform his functions under the Special Provisions Act and this Resolution in as economical and expeditious a manner as is consistent with fairness;More Button

D. the Comptroller should be facilitated in every way possible by Dáil Éireann so as to enable the examinations and investigations aforesaid to be completed at the earliest possible t...More Button

E. the Clerk of Dáil Éireann should, as soon as is practicable after the receipt by him of any such report aforesaid, of the Comptroller, lay it before Dáil Éireann; andMore Button

F. the Committee of Public Accounts, following its examination of any such report as aforesaid, of the Comptroller, should determine how to proceed thereon, consider the matters referred to in any ...More Button

Fisheries and Foreshore (Amendment) Bill, 1998 — Financial Resolution: Motion.

I move:More Button

That it is expedient to make provision for the charging of fees in respect of licences deemed to be aquaculture licences under any Act of the present session to amend and extend the Fisheries Acts...More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. - Corporation Tax.

Was asked: if he will give an assessment of the threat to the Government's policy to introduce a standard rate of CPT at 12.5 per cent arising from his bilateral meeting with the German Finance Minister and t...More Button

I do not regard the single low rate of corporation tax as under threat for several reasons. First, as the Deputy is undoubtedly aware, the German Ministers are now talking about tax co-ordination ...More Button

The European Council welcomes the report of the Council on reinforced tax policy co-operation and emphasises the need to combat harmful tax competition. Co-operation in the tax policy area is not ...More Button

In particular, the European Council:More Button

welcomes the fact that the work of the Code of Conduct Group has proceeded satisfactorily and encourages the Group to conclude its work at the latest by the Helsinki European Council; asks the Comm...More Button

The European Council invites the Council to submit to it a second progress report on tax policy co-operation in time for the European Council in June 1999.More Button

At my meeting with Mr. Lafontaine in Bonn prior to the European Summit in Vienna I made a number of points: I stated that each country has a fundamental democratic right to decide on its own tax po...More Button

I emphasise again that our proposed new standard rate of corporation tax of 12.5 per cent across the board is in line with the EU Code of Conduct and in accordance with the agreement on corporatio...More Button

Mr. Lafontaine did not express any view on our 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate at the meeting I had with him in Bonn last week. He was reported in other fora as having made comments on Ireland's...More Button

One would not want to confuse the Code of Conduct Group and its review mechanism with the Irish agreement to set a single low rate of corporation tax of 12.5 per cent on 1 January 2003. As I point...More Button

The 12.5 per cent rate will apply to the retail and agricultural sectors because the outline I gave in the Principal Features of the budget indicated that sectors such as those will come under the ...More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. - Government Expenditure.

Was asked: if he will set out by Vote group expected Government expenditure for December 1998; the end of year outturn in terms of expenditure and revenue; and if it is intended before the end of 1998 to disc...More Button

The tables which I am circulating in the Official Report set out expectedMore Button

Government expenditure by Vote group for December and the latest estimate of the end year outturn for the major expenditure and revenue aggregates, as forecast by Departments. Forecasts are also g...More Button

Note 1: Total Exchequer issues at end-November to cover departmental spending was £10,788 million. This understated actual spending by about £300 million because below normal issues we...More Button

Note 2: The net reduction in Exchequer issues in respect of Agriculture reflects the receipt of £128 million in EU funds. These are brought to account as appropriations-in-aid on the Vote an...More Button

Note: The figure of £12,924 million shown above for supply services is net of an estimated end-year departmental balances figure of £10 million, as at budget time.More Button

I do not have that information with me. I had information on the total amounts paid out of the Central Fund and I gave the Deputy that information at yesterday's committee meeting. I cannot give ...More Button

I have not made a decision on the discharge of future liabilities I might bring forward between now and the end of the year.More Button

I am always considering matters in the Department of Finance.More Button

I work up to and on 31 December. I did that last year and I will do the same this year. I am always considering matters in the Department of Finance.More Button

The Deputies can take it that I consider matters every day of the year.More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. - National Debt.

Was asked: the reason for the discrepancy between the estimate of the national debt given by the chief executive of the NTMA, and his Department; the plans, if any, he has to arrange a bilateral meeting betwe...More Button

The issue was the subject of discussion at a hearing of the Select Committee on Finance and the Public Service yesterday and I made a detailed statement to the committee outlining the correct posit...More Button

In the first place, Dr. Michael Somers, chief executive of the National Treasury Management Agency, advised me that, despite some reports to the contrary, the agency did not give any forecast for t...More Button

The end year debt figure as estimated by my Department is approximately £29.6 billion. This estimate reflects our current view of the likely Exchequer surplus for the year as a whole, as wel...More Button

It is clear that statements made by Dr. Somers have given rise to the perception that the forecast for the 1998 fiscal outturn, which I included in my budget of 2 December, might have been inaccura...More Button

Given that there was a surplus of £1.9 billion at the end of November, my full year forecast implies there will be a deficit of £1.2 billion for the month of December. I advise Members...More Button

Additional InformationMore Button

My Department's estimates of supply services spending during the course of the year and the forecast outturn are based on information supplied to the Department of Finance by Departments as part of...More Button

I emphasise four critical points. As I have already indicated and as Dr. Somers has confirmed, there is no discrepancy between my Department's national debt figures and those of the NTMA. Forecas...More Button

All loans held in deutschmark, French francs or any of the 11 euro currencies will be reclassified as domestic debt rather than foreign debt. The figure given for the national debt at 31 December ...More Button

The Deputy may have put his finger on an issue which is on the minds of people in the NTMA and elsewhere and which may have formed the background for recent utterances. The NTMA has done a successf...More Button

I have heard the activities of some of the bond houses in Dublin over recent months have not been great and that some people who engaged in these activities have moved to other fields. There shoul...More Button

As Dr. Somers outlined to the committee meeting yesterday and in various interviews, there will be increasing activity in Irish bonds. He has made contacts and changes to ensure there will be a go...More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. - Tax Evasion.

Was asked: the discussions, if any, he has had regarding the concerns of the German tax authorities that the International Financial Services Centre is being used by German finance companies for tax evasion p...More Button

As the Deputy will be aware, I have recently had discussions with Mr. Oscar Lafontaine, the German Finance Minister, on a number of issues, including tax matters. The question of the IFSC being us...More Button

The article in one of the national newspapers was based on a memorandum which was prepared by German bankers based in the International Financial Services Centre. In it they outlined their concerns...More Button

I reject any implication that the IFSC is a tax haven. It is not a tax haven under any guise, but an International Financial Services Centre and is recognised as such. It is properly legislated f...More Button

The Deputy is correct that there is a trigger mechanism in German tax legislation. If the Irish tax rate goes below 30 per cent, which is the trigger mechanism rate, it should not have any major im...More Button

Ceisteanna — Questions. - Vehicle Registration Tax.

Was asked: if he will defer the imposition of the new rates of vehicle registration tax to April 1999; if he will extend the lower rate of vehicle registration tax to cars under 1.6 litres; and if he will mak...More Button

As the Deputy is aware, the House approved a resolution on budget night to implement new rates of vehicle registration tax for certain cars with effect from 1 January 1999. Therefore, cars register...More Button

The overall package of measures announced in my budget, particularly in relation to income tax and corporation tax, will help to stimulate growth in employment in all sectors, including the motor i...More Button

Delaying the coming into effect of the rate changes to 1 April 1999 and increasing the threshold from 1,400 ccs to 1,600 ccs, as suggested by the Deputy, would yield £18.7 million to the Exch...More Button

I have no plans to defer the implementation of the resolution passed on budget night. It would be unfair to give any impression that anything like that is going to arise. There will be no change ...More Button

Ireland is not the only country to have a tax on vehicle registration. Although the base for charging tax in the eight other EU countries which have a registration tax varies, the highest rates ar...More Button

I outlined in my budget speech the reasons for increasing VRT. It was a reasonable imposition on a sector which has been doing extraordinarily well in recent years. I pointed out in my reply toda...More Button

As the Deputy is probably aware, the Taoiseach or any other Minister, no matter when he or she would address any particular group, would not indicate that there would be a tax increase in any area....More Button

No. They were not told anything although they have been successfully lobbying some of the backbenchers in the Deputy's party who have been tabling many parliamentary questions to me on the matter o...More Button

That depends on the contract with the individual garage. Most contracts would allow for price variations where there is a tax change but that depends on the contract entered into between the indiv...More Button

There is a later question on that matter; it is less than one tenth of 1 per cent.More Button

Other Questions. - EU Funding.

Was asked: the papers, studies or documents prepared by his Department prior to, or arising from, the Government decision to divide the country in two for purposes of the next round of EU Structural Funds; an...More Button

Was asked: the plans, if any, there are for initiatives to deal with disadvantage in the many areas outside of the proposed Objective One area which suffer from high levels of poverty and deprivation in view ...More Button

Was asked: if the Government will revert to putting the case for the west, the Border and midlands regions if EUROSTAT rejects the Government's proposal, which includes Kerry and Clare; and if the EU will pro...More Button

Was asked: if he will seek an early meeting with the Commissioner for Regional Affairs to discuss the Government's plans for a regionalised approach to the next round of Structural Funds; and if he will make ...More Button

Was asked: if the Shannon Estuary will be regarded as suitable for Objective One status; and if the parts of the estuary adjacent to Clare and Kerry will be considered exclusively for Objective One status whe...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 6, 7, 23, 28 and 38 together.More Button

The Government decided on 17 November on an application for the reclassification of Ireland's single NUTS II region status into two NUTS II regions: one comprising the Border, midlands and the west...More Button

My Department produced a number of papers on this issue for inter-departmental consideration and for consideration by the Ministers and Secretaries-General group on EU policy. It also drafted in t...More Button

In regard to poor areas outside of the proposed Objective One region, I would draw the Deputy's attention to the Government's commitment in its press release on the regionalisation proposal that t...More Button

Officials from my Department and the Central Statistics Office have met EUROSTAT to discuss the proposal. Contact is continuing and I do not propose to speculate on the outcome of the application ...More Button

I have no specific plans at present to meet Commissioner Wulf-Mathies but I have no doubt that such a meeting, if necessary, could be arranged at short notice. Officials of my Department are in re...More Button

If the proposal to split the country into two NUTS II regions is approved by EUROSTAT, those parts of counties Clare and Kerry adjacent to the Shannon Estuary would be in the region which should qu...More Button

Withholding the documents and reports had nothing to do with Kerry or Clare. The refusal is permitted by the Freedom of Information Act in the context of ongoing negotiations. When we conclude n...More Button

I have pointed out that this matter was considered by the Government early this summer on foot of a Department of Finance report on regionalisation. The Department was asked by the Ministers and S...More Button

A September edition of one of the business magazines referred to the matters to which I have referred and to the inclusion of Kerry and Clare. That was long before there was any political controver...More Button

I have already answered the first part of the Deputy's question. The reason for withholding this information relates to the fact that such a measure could undermine our negotiating position. That...More Button

It is not just about including Kerry and Clare, which only comprise a small part of the Government's consideration. There are other matters relating to overall strategy and how we are to pursue a...More Button

The Deputy was part of the Government which introduced the Freedom of Information Act. He specifically included that proviso in the Act for that purpose.More Button

The Deputy would be the first to criticise the Government if we lost out in Europe by releasing such documents during the negotiations.More Button

As regards the Community initiatives to combat social and urban exclusion, I have already stated that the Government will not be deflected from its commitment to tackle urban and rural social exclu...More Button

The Deputy also asked about the continuation of projects and schemes currently being funded. When the negotiations on Agenda 2000 are concluded and we know what the next tranche of funds will be, t...More Button

Although we have had substantial European funding for many years, we still have social deprivation. European funds represent only a tiny fraction of total Government spending in this area. The Gove...More Button

Since the Government made its proposals, there have been meetings between the Department, the CSO and EUROSTAT to discuss the Irish proposals. These negotiations are ongoing and it would not be ap...More Button

The preparation of the national plan has been ongoing for some time. It is, as its name suggests, a national plan. The decision on sub-regionalising the country was made by the Government only a ...More Button

I have no briefing at present regarding the terms of reference of the consultants, but the question of sub-regionalisation was decided by the Government only some weeks ago whereas the preparation ...More Button

It was possible to include counties Clare and Kerry in the proposed new Objective One region because of the matters to which Deputy Daly referred. Not all parts of County Clare are as wealthy as t...More Button

Would the region the Deputy comes from be in the poorer part?More Button

I am talking about where the Deputy was born.More Button

The Deputy seems anxious to knock these schemes. I did not say any of those schemes would be rejected.More Button

In the context of the next national plan all schemes, current and proposed initiatives will be considered by the Government.More Button

We have not even got around to developing the national plan. The Deputy should not assume any scheme will be rejected. Neither should he anticipate what will happen. Perhaps we will think up even ...More Button

It is not possible to subdivide counties as suggested by the Deputy, as I have indicated in reply to previous parliamentary questions.More Button

I will release some of the Deputy's former playing colleagues who supported me in my constituency to help in his campaign.More Button

Other Questions. - Tax Rebates.

Was asked: the amount of income tax refunded under section 823 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, for each of the tax years ending April 1995 to 1997; the number of people that availed of the refund; and i...More Button

Section 823 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, formerly section 154 of the Finance Act, 1994, provides relief by way of a deduction against earnings in the case of certain Irish resident employe...More Button

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that statistics are not recorded in such a manner as would enable the information requested by the Deputy on the extent of the use of this relief to be pr...More Button

It would be possible, but only at disproportionate cost. If I explain how this relief operates, the Deputy will understand why. The computer records show gross incomes for classes of taxpayers. T...More Button

That information is not available either. If we had those figures, the others would also be available. I am sure that in time it will be possible for the Revenue Commissioners to provide that inf...More Button

Other Questions. - Non-resident Companies.

Was asked: when he will receive the report of the working group on Irish registered non-resident companies and be in a position to bring proposals to Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The House will be aware from previous questions on this issue that detailed discussions have been ongoing for some time, involving my Department, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment ...More Button

In my budget speech, I indicated that a package of measures to deal effectively with the problem was close to finalisation. This package will now be submitted to the Government very shortly so tha...More Button

I do not have that information nor is it possible for me to provide it. As I said in previous replies to parliamentary questions and on Committee Stage of the Finance Bill, it is not possible to e...More Button

No. As I outlined in previous replies and a special debate, it will be a combination of a change in company tax law and possibly the Finance Bill. The range of measures will be announced when the...More Button

Other Questions. - IFSC Office Space.

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to a newspaper article (details supplied) concerning a crisis at the International Financial Services Centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter in view o...More Button

The newspaper article to which the Deputy refers points to the shortage of office space in the IFSC and in Dublin, generally, and makes the point that there will likely be a continuing high demand ...More Button

What has happened since is that the original Custom House docks area site which houses the IFSC is now almost completely developed from the point of view of office accommodation. Almost all of the ...More Button

I am delighted that the success of the IFSC has facilitated this physical development and helped to rejuvenate the north inner city area of Dublin in the way that it has. I am satisfied that the c...More Button

The Deputy referred to the report of the international advisory group on the IFSC which he, as the then Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, established and which was published las...More Button

In this context, and given that the preferential IFSC tax regime will be phasing out in the coming years with the IFSC becoming part of the general economy, there may not be a longer term need for ...More Button

I understand from the Dublin Docklands Development Authority that the authority is in the process of preparing a planning scheme and action area plan to facilitate further commercial development, i...More Button

I referred to that in my reply. When the single low rate of corporation tax of 12.5 per cent is introduced, it will apply to all operators, no matter where they are located.More Button

Written Answers follow Adjournment Debate.More Button

Adjournment of Dáil under Standing Order 31: Collection of Taxes.

I am glad of the opportunity once again to respond to this issue. The motion refers to public outrage at the appeal commissioner's decision, the issue of publication of the decision and the questi...More Button

As I said yesterday, I acknowledge the strength of feeling on this issue in the House. That is why I came in and gave a full reply over 45 minutes to the various questions posed. I had hoped that...More Button

There are a number of points I underlined in my replies to the House in response to the four Private Notice Questions which are worth repeating. First, I made it clear on my part and on the part of...More Button

The issue arose yesterday of making a tribunal finding into a form of binding tax assessment. I said that the Oireachtas could consider that under the Finance Bill or at any other time. Naturally...More Button

As regards Appeals Commissioners' decisions, I pointed out that it was I who had provided the Appeal Commissioners with the discretion to publish their findings under certain conditions. If there ...More Button

Written Answers - Dormant Accounts.

Was asked: the progress, if any, made by his Department regarding money left in dormant accounts in banks and building societies, particularly in relation to account holders who may have died; his views on wh...More Button

Was asked: his views on dormant accounts in banks and other financial institutions; his further views on whether it is fair that millions of pounds deposited in these institutions should be left unclaimed wit...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 11 and 47 together.More Button

As I informed the House a month ago, my Department has undertaken an examination into the general issue of dormant accounts held in credit institutions. That investigation identified potential leg...More Button

I am happy to state again that I have no intention of letting this matter rest. My Department has prepared proposals designed to resolve the difficulties identified by the earlier examination. I w...More Button

Written Answers - Asset Inflation.

Was asked: if any index of asset inflation is maintained; if so, his views on the huge increase in this inflation over the past two years; his expectations for the future; and if he will make a statement on t...More Button

There are, however, statistics available for some important classes of assets such as financial assets and property.More Button

As the Deputy will be aware there has been very strong growth in the prices of these assets over the last two years. For example, the ISEQ index of Irish share prices has increased by over two thi...More Button

Strong growth in asset prices overall is not surprising in the light of the exceptional performance of the economy over recent years with the value of nominal GDP estimated to have increased by alm...More Button

Increases in asset prices are not in general a cause for concern providing they are consistent with overall economic stability and with the fundamental determinants of the asset's underlying value,...More Button

In this respect the reduction in the rate of capital gains tax from 40 per cent to 20 per cent announced in my 1998 budget is an important structural measure to improve the functioning of asset mar...More Button

The situation in relation to houses is, of course, a special case since investment returns are not the primary motivation for the majority of purchasers.More Button

The most recent figures released by the Department of the Environment and Local Government early last week and developments in the Irish Permanent index of house prices indicate that the measures i...More Button

As far as future prospects for asset prices are concerned my role as Minister for Finance is to provide a stable macroeconomic environment conducive to long-term output, incomes and employment grow...More Button

I have already mentioned the most recent figures on house price developments in the economy. I am confident that the measures being taken in response to the Bacon report will continue to be succes...More Button

Written Answers - European Plant and Veterinary Office.

Was asked: when work will commence on the European Plant and Veterinary Office at Grange, Dunsany, County Meath; the progress, if any, made to date in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: when work will commence on the European Plant and Veterinary Office at Grange, Dunsany, County Meath; the progress, if any, made to date in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Written Answers - EU Funding.

Was asked: the Government's position on the negotiation of the next EU budget.More Button

The European Commission has tabled proposals for a new financial perspective to cover the period 2000-2006. The financial perspective sets out the maximum amount which may be spent on any category...More Button

Clearly the implications of Agenda 2000, in terms of limiting expenditure under the Community budget, in such areas as agriculture and Structural Funds, are of major importance for Ireland. Irelan...More Button

The Government's strategy is based on the promotion of Ireland's strategic interests throughout the negotiations. As Deputies will appreciate, I cannot go into more details of our negotiating stan...More Button

Written Answers - Vehicle Registration Tax.

The direct impact on the consumer price index, CPI, of the restructuring of vehicle registration tax and the increase in the rates announced in my recent budget is estimated at less than one tenth ...More Button

Was asked: the changes in vehicle registration tax introduced in the budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The current two band structure of vehicle registration tax is being restructured to a three band system, in respect of category A cars, with effect from midnight 31 December 1998 and the rates of V...More Button

The revised bands and the rates applicable to them are as follows:More Button

I believe that the overall package of measures announced in my budget, particularly in relation to income tax and corporation tax will help to stimulate growth in employment in all sectors, includi...More Button

I would like to inform the Deputy that the VRT figures for 1998 to date show that 57 per cent of new car sales are in the up to 1,400 cc bracket. These sales are not affected by the budget announc...More Button

I have been informed by the Revenue Commissioners, who have responsibility for the administration of the vehicle registration tax, that the average increase in VRT in respect of 1,600 cc motor cars...More Button

Was asked: if he will introduce measures in the Finance Bill to ensure that persons who have purchased cars which will not be registered until 1999 are exempt from the increase in vehicle registration tax ann...More Button

As the Deputy is aware, the House approved a resolution, on budget night to implement the new rates of vehicle registration tax, with effect from 1 January 1999. Therefore all cars registered afte...More Button

I have no plans to introduce an amendment to the Resolution in the Finance Bill.More Button

Was asked: the level of vehicle registration tax on motor cars in Ireland and comparison figures for EU counterparts; the EU proposals in vehicle registration tax harmonisation; the measures, if any, required...More Button

As the Deputy is aware from my budget speech, the levels of vehicle registration tax will be restructured with effect from 1 January 1999 to the following three-band system in place of the current ...More Button

As the Deputy will appreciate, I have no responsibility for vehicle registration taxes applicable in member states. Vehicle registration taxes of one form or other are applied in some member state...More Button

The question of the harmonisation of vehicle registration taxes is a matter for the EU Commission in the first instance. I am not aware of Commission proposals in this regard.More Button

Was asked: the average 1998 value and vehicle registration tax paid on registration of a used motor vehicle and comparison figures for a new vehicle; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the information requested by the Deputy is set out below. The figures are based on an analysis of cars registered up to the end of October 1998 &mda...More Button

Was asked: the percentage of vehicle registration tax collected to date in 1998 on used vehicles compared to new vehicles; if he will give a breakdown of vehicle registration tax on engine size; and if he wil...More Button

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the gross amount of vehicle registration tax collected on a new and used cars registered up to the end of October 1998 amounts to approximately &pou...More Button

A further breakdown by reference to engine size is as follows:More Button

Was asked: the way in which the level of vehicle registration tax as announced in the recent budget compares with other EU member states; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the level of vehicle registration tax payable on motor cars in each of the EU member states; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 115 and 116 together.More Button

As the Deputy will appreciate, I have no responsibility for the taxes applicable in other EU member states. Vehicle registration taxes or taxes relating to vehicles, of one form or other, are appl...More Button

Germany, France, Luxembourg, Sweden and the UK do not charge taxes similar to VRT. Many EU states, including the UK, have far higher taxes on petrol than that applied in Ireland.More Button

Was asked: the basis on which he decided to increase vehicle registration tax payable on cars in excess of 1.4 litres; the extra amount this will cost purchasers of new cars with capacities of 1.6 litres, 1.7...More Button

I refer the Deputy to my answers to a series of questions relating to vehicle registration tax given on Tuesday, 15 December 1998.More Button

Some 57 per cent of vehicles are not affected at all by the changes and it is not correct that the average increase is £600 on the price of a family car.More Button

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that, based on an analysis of VRT payments up to the end of October 1998, the increase in the rates of VRT are as set out below. The table is based on av...More Button

I would like to inform the Deputy that the VRT figures for 1998 to date show that 57 per cent of new cars sales are in the up to 1,400 cc bracket. A further 39 per cent are in the 1,401 to 2,000 ...More Button

Written Answers - An Comisiúin Logainmneacha.

Bhunaigh an tAire Airgeadais an Coimisiúin Logainmneacha sa bhliain 1946 (naoi déag daichead a sé) ar bhonn neamhreachtúil. Ba é cúram a leagadh air ceart...More Button

Dáréag atá ar an gcoimisún faoi láthair, an Cathaoirleach san áireamh. Is é an Dochtúir Ciarán Ó Coigligh, ó Roinn na G...More Button

Tá ceist an Bhrainse Logainmneacha agus an Choimisiúin Logainmneacha faoi chaididil agam le tamall anuas. Táim tar éis a mholadh don Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta, G...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Exemptions.

Was asked: the number of bodies and organisations in operation which enjoy tax exempt status as at 1 December 1998.More Button

Was asked: if he will make arrangements for the publication of a compendium of all bodies, organisations and trusts granted tax exempt status since the passage of the Finance Act, 1967; and if he will make a ...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 17 and 49 together.More Button

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the number of bodies on their records which hold tax exemption as charitably exempt bodies at 1 December 1998 was 6,305. As I informed the House in ...More Button

As I also informed the House previously, the Revenue Commissioners intend to make public a list of charitably exempt bodies. The procedure being followed is that bodies which hold exemption are cu...More Button

Where an objection is raised by a body to its inclusion on the list the Information Commissioner will determine whether the objection should be upheld. Subject to the outcome of these arrangements...More Button

Written Answers - Wage Policies.

Was asked: his views on the proposal by his German counterpart that wage policies in euro-zone member states should be co-ordinated (details supplied).More Button

Wage policies in euro-zone member states are set according to national practice. In some member states there would be a centralised approach while in others a more free market approach is taken.More Button

The actual rates of wages obtaining in a member state would reflect in general the macroeconomic conditions of that State.More Button

In the new euro context there is increased EU central surveillance of euro member states macroeconomic policies. The Deputy will be aware of the roles of the new Euro 11 ministerial group and of t...More Button

While there can be exchanges of information on wage setting policies, we would be opposed to any mandatory co-ordination of national wage policies across the euro zone.More Button

Our view would be that national decision-making ensures an appropriate flexibility across the euro zone and is more conducive to correct adjustments being made to reflect national and regional econ...More Button

Written Answers - EU Fiscal Policy.

Was asked: the result of his recent discussions with his German counterpart with particular reference to Germany's preference for an equalisation of taxation policy; and if he will make a statement on the mat...More Button

Was asked: if he will report on his meeting with the German Minister for Finance, Mr. Lafontaine; his views on the expressed views of Mr. Lafontaine in relation to European fiscal and monetary policy; and if ...More Button

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the comments of Mr. Oskar Lafontaine, German Finance Minister, in relation to tax harmonisation throughout Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 19, 29 and 40 together.More Button

The meeting with the German Finance Minister lasted one hour and two main topics were discussed, namely the EU budget and the German contribution to it and tax co-ordination within EU. Mr. Lafonta...More Button

It is clear from the meeting with Mr. Lafontaine and from the subsequent discussions at the Vienna Summit that harmonising business or personal tax rates in the Community is not on the agenda. Thi...More Button

Co-operation in the tax policy area is not aiming at uniform tax rates and is not inconsistent with fair tax competition but is called for to reduce the continuing distortions in the single market,...More Button

Written Answers - Ministerial Communications.

Was asked: if he has communicated with the European Commission or the ECB since the publication of his Budget Statement; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I accompanied the Taoiseach to the European Council in Vienna on 12 and 13 December, which the European Commission and the European Central Bank also attended. In addition, my Department communica...More Button

The Stability Programme was submitted in accordance with the Council's 1 May declaration, in which Ministers undertook to submit national stability or convergence programmes at the latest by the en...More Button

It is my understanding that the Irish Stability Programme will be considered by ECOFIN at its meeting of 18 January 1998.More Button

Regarding the European Central Bank, it has not been assigned any formal role in the mechanisms for multilateral surveillance under the Stability and Growth Pact, and therefore the question of subm...More Button

Written Answers - Employment and Health Levies.

Was asked: the reasons for the decisions to abolish the employment levy and to increase the health levy to 2 per cent; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the reason he made alterations to the health levy in his Budget Statement; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 30 together.More Button

The employment and training levy and the health contribution combined currently amount to 2.25 per cent. The restructuring which I announced in my Budget Statement on 2 December will reduce the ov...More Button

The Government has decided to apply the reduced yield from the levies to support the provision of health services for the public. This involves abolition of the employment and training levy and th...More Button

The decision to abolish the employment and training levy reflects the changed employment situation. The increase in employment, the fall in unemployment and the continuing rise in the qualification...More Button

Written Answers - Privatisation of State Companies.

Was asked: the plans, if any, he has for the privatisation of State companies or the sale of State assets in 1999; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

In so far as my own area is concerned, Deputies will be aware that the Government decided in July last to dispose of the State's interest in ICC Bank. I am currently fully engaged in giving effect...More Button

In relation to ACC and TSB Banks, the boards and managements of both banks are currently exploring together the option of a merger of the two banks and a flotation of the merged entity. I will giv...More Button

During 1998 my colleague, the Minister for Public Enterprise, announced that an initial public offering IPO of shares in Telecom Éireann would be held in the summer of 1999. The Government...More Button

The sale of Irish Fertiliser Industries Limited is currently being considered in consultation with Imperial Chemical Industries plc the joint venture partner.More Button

Written Answers - Debt and Development Coalition.

Was asked: if he has considered the concerns expressed by Debt and Development Coalition Ireland in relation to the IMF; the reason it should not contribute to the enhanced structural adjustment facility; and...More Button

I have been made fully aware of the concerns of the Debt and Development Coalition, and other organisations and individuals who have taken an interest in the alleviation of Third World Debt and the...More Button

Since my appointment as Minister for Finance I have taken a deep interest in the issue of Third World debt and I have through my Department maintained an open policy as regards contacts with all in...More Button

I have sought to give them assurances that Ireland will continue to use the influence available to it to work for the implementation of both ESAF and the debt initiative on the most favourable term...More Button

I am particularly pleased to note that the developing countries within the United Nations sponsored a resolution calling of the developed countries to support the ESAF facility and the debt initiat...More Button

I fully appreciate that neither HIPC nor ESAF are perfect instruments — no administrative system ever was — and I am determined to ensure that the WF and the World Bank will take owners...More Button

Written Answers - EU Meetings.

Was asked: if he will report on the Euro 11 meeting held in Brussels on 23 November 1998 and the ECOFIN meeting held on that day; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The meeting of the euro 11 group, held on 23 November 1998, was attended by the Secretary-General of the Department of Finance and me. Among the items discussed were general economic policy, corpor...More Button

The agenda for the meeting of Finance Ministers of the European Union, held on the same day, consisted of the following issues.More Button

ECOFIN considered the progress of Agenda 2000 negotiations, focusing on stabilisation and the own resources system. Some member states have suggested a system of budgetary stabilisation, as oppose...More Button

The Council held an exchange of views on the Commission's own resources report on the operation of the own resources system. Items discussed included the performance of the present system as well ...More Button

On Communication or a Framework for Action, I can also report that the ECOFIN Council considered a document prepared by the European Commission titled “Financial Services: Building a Framework for ...More Button

The Commission paper reviewed financial services relating to wholesale markets, retail financial markets, supervisory co-operation and taxation. In its communication the Commission concluded that, ...More Button

The temporary high-level Financial Services Policy Group, to be composed of personal representatives of ECOFIN Ministers and chaired by the Commission, is to draw up a report identifying the politi...More Button

A proposal for a directive concerning the distance selling of financial services, which was adopted by the Commission on 14 October, was presented to the Council. The proposal is intended to amend...More Button

Ministers were presented with a report on services of general economic interest in the banking sector which was prepared by the European Commission. The Commission's report contains a study of se...More Button

Ministers had a brief exchange of views on developments in the area of risk capital focusing on the aspects highlighted in the communication and action plan which the Commission had submitted to th...More Button

While I should point out that the majority of the proposals under the action plan will fall to be implemented by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, I can, however, assure the Deput...More Button

On employment, the Council pushed forward with the agenda for completing a joint employment report and preparing employment guidelines for 1999. Account was taken of progress that had been made on...More Button

The President of the Court of Auditors presented the Court's report on the execution of the 1997 budget. The report will now be examined in detail and ECOFIN will return to it early next year when...More Button

On Efficient Financial Management and SEM 2000 — Council Conclusions — the Council welcomed the fourth progress report on the matter of sound financial management and complimented it on...More Button

The Council urged the Commission to monitor EU expenditure more efficiently so as to reduce the concentration of budget transactions at the end of the financial year. It invited the Commission to ...More Button

The Council took note of the Commission's anti-fraud work programme.More Button

On combating counterfeiting of the euro: the Council welcomed measures being undertaken by the European Central Bank and member states to combat counterfeiting. The ECB and the Commission were inv...More Button

On regulations on agents authorised by the Commission to carry out controls and inspections on the communities' own resources the Permanent Representatives Committee was mandated to reach agreement...More Button

Some member states raised specific points relating to the 1999 EU Budget. It was agreed that this matter is best considered at the Budget Council.More Button

Ministers at the ECOFIN Council met with the EU social partners over lunch. The discussion was conducted in broad terms and consisted of an exchange of views on the economic and employment situati...More Button

The Council approved a number of principles to apply to the issue of collector coins in euro.More Button

Ministers informally discussed the possibility of further assistance to Central American Countries hit by hurricane “Mitch”. The Monetary Committee was asked to examine, in particular, the questio...More Button

As no ECOFIN meeting took place on 7 December 1998, I assume that the Deputy is referring to the ECOFIN meeting which took place on 1 December 1998. The following issues were considered at that me...More Button

The Council noted the first interim report of the group which was set up to implement the code of conduct on business taxation agreed by ECOFIN in December 1998. Council also noted a report by the...More Button

It was agreed that a conclusion on a draft Directive on savings taxation should be aimed for by June 1999. The importance of equivalent measures being adopted with non-EU countries was recognised....More Button

ECOFIN took note of discussions to date on the question of energy taxation and that further work would continue during the German Presidency. Ireland and other member states stressed the need to ta...More Button

The Council agreed on a progress report to the Vienna European Council setting out developments in relation to the code of conduct, tax on savings, abolition of withholding taxes on interest and ro...More Button

The Council agreed on a report to the Vienna European Council on the state of preparation of Stage 3 of EMU concerning, in particular, the external representation of the Community. In its work on ...More Button

The external representation in Stage 3 of EMU will imply changes in the current organisation of international fora. Therefore, third countries and institutions will need to be persuaded to accept ...More Button

As far as G7 is concerned, non-European partners have already accepted that the President of the ECB attends meetings of the group for discussions which relate to EMU.More Button

Regarding the representation of the Community at ministerial level on EMU issues, the Council agreed to suggest to the other G7 partners to have the President of ECOFIN, or if the President came fr...More Button

In a transitional phase, one of the euro area Ministers who are involved in the G7 group on a permanent basis will, for the sake of greater continuity, provide support for the President of the ECOF...More Button

With regard to representation at the IMF, the Council considered that pragmatic solutions for presenting issues of particular relevance to EMU may have to be sought which do not require a change i...More Button

The Council agreed a report to be presented to the Vienna Council on economic policy co-ordination. The report identifies the reasons for economic policy co-ordination and the means by which this w...More Button

The Council approved a report to the Vienna European Council on strengthening the international financial system drawn up further to the request of the Heads of State or Government meeting in Ports...More Button

The report, prepared by the Monetary Committee, underlines the need for EU member states to show both leadership and willingness to push forward ideas for reform in order to deal with weaknesses in...More Button

The Council reached political agreement on the two decisions concerning respectively the composition and the statute of the Economic and Financial Committee which is to replace the Monetary Committ...More Button

Under the first decision concerning the composition of the EFC, the member states, the Commission and the European Central Bank will each appoint two members and may also appoint two alternate memb...More Button

The second decision concerning the statute of the EFC stipulates in particular that the tasks to be carried out by the Committee are those described in paragraphs 2 and 4 of Article 109 (c) of the ...More Button

This decision also establishes that the Committee will elect, by majority vote, its President from among its members who are senior officials in the national administrations, for a period of two ye...More Button

The Council invited the Commission to put forward a recommendation for a Council Decision enabling the French Government to negotiate new monetary arrangements with the Monegasque authorities. The...More Button

On Agenda 2000 Council discussed a number of detailed options and possible solutions to some key questions which were raised at the informal ECOFIN meeting in Vienna. It was generally acknowledged...More Button

Council examined the future volume of expenditure. Following this examination discussions focused on the concept of real stabilisation of expenditure and how it relates to the drawing up of the new...More Button

Regarding the Community's own resources system, a preliminary examination has taken place on the issues and options mentioned in the Commission's report on the operation of the own resources system...More Button

The Council reached political agreement on a common position concerning a proposal for a regulation amending Regulation (EC) No. 2236/95 laying down general rules for the granting of Community fina...More Button

The proposal for this regulation was tabled by the Commission on 11 May 1998 in the framework of the Agenda 2000 exercise. The European Parliament has given its opinion on 19 November in the frame...More Button

The Council examined and welcomed the Stability Programme of the Netherlands 1999-2002. The Council opinion on the programme was adopted. The Council noted that the programme was based on signifi...More Button

The Council also examined the Convergence Programme of Denmark 1998-2005. The Council opinion on the programme was adopted. The focus in the programme on budgetary consolidation underpinned by co...More Button

On employment, the Council approved the draft 1998 joint employment report on the draft employment guidelines for 1999, and subsequently on the same day held a joint meeting with the Labour and Soc...More Button

On Facilitating the Reconstruction efforts in Central America, the Council and Ministers meeting in the Council agreed a statement covering humanitarian aid, bilateral and multilateral debt and rec...More Button

The Council discussed the issue of duty free and tax free shopping for EU travellers after 1999. While a number of member states were in favour of retention of this facility, others did not agree ...More Button

As part of its ECOFIN conclusions, the Council issued a detailed timetable for the adoption of the conversion rates on 31 December 1998 as follows. One, at the end of the regular central bank conc...More Button

Council session. At the same time the Commission will make these rates public via internet and financial information providers. Two, the Council will adopt the regulation and inform the public of...More Button

Written Answers - Public Service Appointments.

Was asked: if he will list by grade, designation, Department or other available description new public service appointments in respect of which allocation has been made in the Book of Estimates; and if he wil...More Button

At this stage, I am unable to provide this information as the details of staffing by grade and Department will only be known when the details of the 1999 Estimates allocations have been settled. Ho...More Button

On the basis of this information, approximately 7,150 extra staff are expected to be employed in the public service at the end of 1999. Most of these extra staff will be recruited in the health se...More Button

I would point out to the Deputy that the recruitment of extra staff inevitably arises from increased allocations for priority services, mainly in health and education. The Government will confine ...More Button

Written Answers - Basic Income.

Was asked: if his Department has studied the possibility of introducing a basic income; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The basic income proposal of the Conference of Religious in Ireland is currently being examined by a Partnership 2000 working group chaired by the Taoiseach's Department. As part of this process, ...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Harmonisation.

Was asked: his views on proposals for tax harmonisation within the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: if the International Financial Services Centre clearing house group has been consulted about, or is considering, proposals from the EU on tax harmonisationMore Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 101 together.More Button

There are no proposals on the table for harmonising business or personal tax rates within the EU. Recent discussions at the ECOFIN Council and at the Vienna Summit last week have taken place in th...More Button

As tax harmonisation is not on the agenda, the question of consulting the International Financial Services Centre Clearing House Group does not arise.More Button

Written Answers - Tribunals of Inquiry.

Was asked: if he will examine legislation in relation to tribunals with a view to possible amendments where bodies are unhelpful and unco-operative; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The tribunal of inquiry on payments to Messrs. Charles Haughey and Michael Lowry was appointed by instrument of An Taoiseach dated 26th day of September 1997 pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry (...More Button

The Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts, 1921 to 1997 provide that a tribunal may make such orders as it considers necessary for the purposes of its functions, and it shall have, in relation to th...More Button

The Acts also provide that where a person fails or refuses to comply with or disobeys an order of a tribunal, the High Court may, on application to it in a summary manner in that behalf by the trib...More Button

The Deputy will appreciate, therefore, that mechanisms exist to ensure enforcement of orders made by the tribunal, if required, and that it would be entirely inappropriate for me to interfere with ...More Button

Written Answers - Black Economy.

Was asked: the progress, if any, made to date by the construction industry sub-group of the black economy monitoring group, particularly in regard to subcontracting in the construction industry and the operat...More Button

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that comprehensive recommendations made by the construction industry sub-group of the Black Economy Monitoring Group in 1994 resulted in administrative an...More Button

The legislative changes were made in the Finance Act, 1996 and came under two broad headings. First, a requirement was introduced making it necessary for parties who intend to enter a relevant con...More Button

Second, where a principal contractor makes any payment to a leader of a group he must deduct tax at 35 per cent by reference to each member of the group for whom he has not received a relevant paym...More Button

During 1997-1998 the Revenue Commissioners undertook a very intensive special project to monitor all aspects of compliance in the construction industry. In the course of that project more than 7,0...More Button

The construction industry sub-group did not meet during 1998 but, of course, as I mentioned in my reply to the Deputy on 17 November 1998 any member of the sub-group may call for a meeting of the g...More Button

Written Answers - Financial Services Sector.

Was asked: the strategy or strategies, if any, he proposes to ensure the continued success in the financial services sector after the introduction of the euro and in view of the United Kingdom remaining outsi...More Button

In relation to the financial services sector, the 1996. ESRI report entitled The Economic Implications for Ireland of EMU concluded that this sector will have to meet significant, non-recurring, co...More Button

EMU will significantly enhance the size and liquidity of the financial markets and facilitate the completion of the internal market in the financial sector. The financial sector will be in the fro...More Button

The primary macroeconomic objective of the Government is the continuation of sustained economic and employment growth supported by social partnership, low inflation and prudent budgetary policies. ...More Button

With particular regard to the International Financial Services Centre, the IFSC Clearing House Group, a working group under the aegis of the Taoiseach's Department, and made up of private and publi...More Button

This strategy, building on the success of the IFSC, will focus on the need to maximise the level of sustainable economic activity and employment in international financial services in Ireland. Ste...More Button

In short, appropriate structural policies for the development of the competitiveness of our economy, as well as prudent budgetary and incomes policies will be the key to ensuring that we cope succe...More Button

Written Answers - European Central Bank.

Was asked: his views on whether it is appropriate for him or other Ministers for Finance to comment on the monetary policy of the ECB or the member banks of the ECSB; and if he will make a statement on the ma...More Button

The independence of the European Central Bank and of the national central banks in the exercise of the tasks of the European system of central banks — composed of the ECB and national central...More Button

It is important to distinguish between the independence of the ECB and the need for accountability. The Treaty provides for an appropriate degree of accountability as a counterbalance to independen...More Button

The Treaty also provides for a framework for continuous dialogue between the Council of Ministers and the ECB, respecting their respective competences. The President of the Council of Ministers ma...More Button

In addition to these Treaty requirements, the ECB will be invited to take part, when appropriate, at the informal meetings of the euro 11 group — comprising the Ministers of the states partic...More Button

Furthermore, the President of the ECB has indicated that he will hold a press conference, normally once a month, after one of the fortnightly meetings of the Governing Council of the ECB. Also, I ...More Button

Written Answers - Standards in Public Life.

Was asked: the proposals, if any, he has under the aegis of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference for the development of links and co-operation with the development and implementation of proposals fo...More Button

The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, BIIC, is to be established under the British-Irish Agreement to replace and subsume both the conference established under the Anglo-Irish Agreement a...More Button

However, the matter might be more appropriately raised at the British-Irish Council, BIC, which will also be established under strand three of the British-Irish Agreement. The Agreement provides t...More Button

However I should point out that both of the bodies mentioned are not yet fully operational and detailed work programmes have yet to be worked out. Against this background, the broad area of regula...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Code.

Was asked: his views on the desirability of shifting the tax burden in society away from personal endeavour in the from of employment or self-employment and towards corporate profits, environmentally degradin...More Button

In my budget speech at the start of this month, I restated the Government's commitment to reduce the burden of personal taxation in order to reward effort and improve the incentives to work. I als...More Button

Ireland's low rate of corporation tax for manufacturing and certain internationally-traded services has been one important element in attracting foreign direct investment and in encouraging, domest...More Button

In budget 1998, I reduced both the standard and higher rates of tax by 2 per cent, and in budget 1999, earlier this month, I introduced a major reform of the tax system to remove as many people as ...More Button

In regard to green tax policy I made it clear in the budget that there was a need to put in place an agreed indirect tax policy which will assist us in meeting our environmental obligations on CO 2...More Button

Was asked: the reason he did not act on the recommendations in relation to green taxation in his Budget Statement; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

As the Deputy is aware, it is not possible for a Minister for Finance to act on all the proposals, pre-budget submissions and recommendations which are received.More Button

With regard to recommendations in relation to so called green taxation, I refer the Deputy to the following specific measures which were announced in my budget: restructuring of the VRT rates; the ...More Button

The Deputy will also, no doubt, be aware that I announced in my budget that tile formulation of any agreed policy measures on green taxation would form part of the discussions on the successor to P...More Button

As I said, in the budget, we will need to put in place an agreed indirect tax policy which will assist in meeting our international obligations on CO 2 emissions. However, such a policy needs the ...More Button

Was asked: the number of taxpayers who will pay income tax at a rate of 46 per cent as a result of the changes announced in the budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Following, the changes announced in the 1999 budget, the number of taxpayers who will pay income tax at the higher rate for the 1999/2000 tax year is estimated to be of the order of 485,000. This ...More Button

Deputies should note that, because the main personal allowances and the PAYE allowance are now standard rated, they will no longer count towards the threshold at which taxpayers become liable to th...More Button

Was asked: the steps, if any, he will take to ensure that the redundancy payments received by workers as a result of the termination of their employment through closure of their factory where they have given ...More Button

The current legislation in relation to tax relief in respect of redundancy lump sum payments is section 201 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997. The exemptions and reliefs in respect of redundanc...More Button

As an alternative to the above reliefs a taxpayer may, if more favourable, claim an amount known as the standard capital superannuation benefit. The SCSB is calculated as 1/15th of the person's av...More Button

If a taxpayer is liable to tax on part of the redundancy payment he or she is also entitled to top-slicing relief. This means that any amount of the payment liable to tax is charged, not at the ta...More Button

Lump sums payable from approved occupational pension schemes are not chargeable to tax under section 201, Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997. However, these lump sums must be paid within strictly appro...More Button

The above information summarises the regulations governing tax relief available for redundancy and retirement lump sum payments which are rather complex. Further information may, however, be obtai...More Button

The exemptions and reliefs available under the SCSB arrangements which I described, are indexed to the extent that they are calculated in relation to a person's salary. Major changes were made in ...More Button

Written Answers - Multi-Annual Budgeting.

Was asked: the mechanism whereby agreement was reached by the Government in relation to the multi-annual budgeting targets; the rationale behind the target figures; the mechanism for enforcing adherence to th...More Button

Multiannual budgeting aims to put in place a framework within which the Government can consider and decide its overall budgetary, taxation and expenditure priorities in a medium-term context.More Button

Progress towards putting that framework in place was made in the 1997 and 1998 budgets.More Button

As part of the presentation of the medium-term implications of my 1998 budget, projections were published showing expenditure by individual ministerial Vote groups for the period 1998-2000. The pr...More Button

In my 1998 budget, I said that I would be considering, as part of the preparations for the 1999 budget, the next stage of the move to multiannual budgeting. This would involve the Government makin...More Button

Voted expenditure, current and capital, would be disaggregated into financial envelopes for ministerial Vote groups. The envelopes would be the amounts to be allocated to Departments for the three...More Button

The methodology for deciding on the financial envelopes is as follows: aggregate limits on spending, current and capital, are decided by the Government, in the overall budget context, on my recomme...More Button

These were set out in two tables in the document on Budget statistics and tables. Table 4(a) covers current expenditure. It includes, as well as no policy change projections for each Vote group f...More Button

The figures for Vote groups in these tables are not financial envelopes. In the budget I said that I would address the final phase of the move to multi-annual expenditure budgeting which will inv...More Button

The principal mechanisms for ensuring that multi-annual budget decisions are arrived at and held to are basically the same as those long used in deciding budgetary issues, namely decision making, b...More Button

Multi-annual budgeting does not aim further to constrain any of the principal actors in their decision making or actions, nor to limit dialogue on what the Government's and the community's future p...More Button

Written Answers - Tax Allowances.

Was asked: if tax allowances other than personal and PAYE allowances will continue to be paid at the standard rate for the foreseeable future; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

In budget 1999 earlier this month I announced that the basic single and married personal allowances and the PAYE allowance would be standard rated as part of the move towards tax credits. These all...More Button

Was asked: his views on the way in which capital tax allowances for the provision of child care facilities can assist in this provision in view of the fact that the return on capital investment of £12,0...More Button

It is not clear how the return of £240 is arrived at, but I can confirm to the Deputy that a qualifying capital investment of £12,000 would provide allowances of £1,800 each year ...More Button

Was asked: if the capital tax allowances will be available to child care centres that have made improvements or have commenced improvements; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

In accordance with the normal procedures for budget day announcements these new capital allowances will apply to building expenditure incurred on or after 2 December 1998 whether or not the improve...More Button

Written Answers - Rural Renewal Scheme.

Was asked: the position regarding the rural renewal scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I have not yet received approval from the EU Commission for the business elements of the rural renewal scheme. The latest position is that the Commission has written to us with several queries ari...More Button

Any final decision made by the Commission in this context will be announced at the appropriate time.More Button

Written Answers - Duty Free Sales.

Was asked: the latest discussions he has had with other EU Ministers regarding the desirability of retaining duty free sales for travellers within the EU; the further initiatives, if any, he plans in this reg...More Button

As I have informed the House on a number of occasions, at my specific request, the proposed abolition of duty free sales was placed on the agenda for the ECOFIN Council meeting on 19 May 1998. Whi...More Button

The issue was discussed at some length at the Vienna summit last weekend. At the summit, the European Council asked the Commission and the Finance Ministers to examine, by March 1999, the problems...More Button

I am hopeful that further progress may be made in this issue during the forthcoming German Presidency.More Button

Was asked: the progress, if any, made to reverse the decision to abolish duty free sales; the international meetings, if any, planned either by himself or his officials to discuss a deferment of the decision;...More Button

As the Deputy is no doubt aware, Ireland has long been supportive of the retention of duty free sales and we have raised the issue at Council and with ECOFIN colleagues on many occasions.More Button

The House will also be aware, that the initiative in relation to having the decision to abolish duty free sales for intra-community travellers post 30 June 1999 overturned rests with the EU Commiss...More Button

As I have informed the House previously, at my specific request, the proposed abolition of duty free sales was placed on the agenda for the ECOFIN Council meeting on 19 May 1998. While some member...More Button

The Deputy may also be aware, that the issue was discussed at some length at the Vienna Summit last weekend. At the summit, the European Council asked the Commission and the Finance Ministers to e...More Button

This was very welcome news and I am hopeful that further progress may be made in the issue during the forthcoming German Presidency.More Button

Written Answers - Credit Union Report.

Was asked: the reason the report on the credit union working group has not been published; when he will publish the report; the plans, if any, he has to act on the recommendations of the group; and if he will...More Button

As the Deputy knows, earlier this year I established a working group to examine the taxation of returns on credit union savings bearing in mind the special and particular nature of the credit unio...More Button

As I have not yet completed my deliberations on this report I am not in a position, at this stage, to indicated what action, if any, I plan to take on foot of the report and when the report will be...More Button

Written Answers - Motor Vehicle Registrations.

Was asked: the latest available figure for the number of vehicles registered; and the way in which this compares with the numbers registered in 1978 and 1988.More Button

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners, who are responsible for the registration of vehicles since 1993, that the number of vehicles first registered in 1998, up to the end of November, is 241,...More Button

The equivalent figures for 1978 and 1998, which have been supplied by the Department of the Environment and Local Government, who were responsible for vehicle registration up to 1993, are as follows:More Button

It should be noted that the figures shown above include vehicles which were exempt from payment of tax or duty e.g. diplomatic cars and registrations on transfer of residence.More Button

Written Answers - Border Region Development.

Was asked: if he will initiate special investment measures to tackle the infrastructural needs of the Border region in view of the need to regenerate the economy of the region which has suffered immense damag...More Button

The Government has consistently supported all initiatives aimed at promoting economic regeneration in the Border region and will continue to do so in the future.More Button

The Deputy will be aware that the Border region is already receiving special financial assistance under various programmes related to its special position. These programmes include the Internation...More Button

The International Fund for Ireland was established by the Irish and British Governments in 1986 with the aim of promoting economic and social progress in Northern Ireland and the Border counties. ...More Button

The Programme for Peace and Reconciliation, established by the European Union in 1995, is aimed at Northern Ireland and the Border counties. It involves total EU expenditure of approximately £...More Button

The Joint Ireland-Northern Ireland INTERREG programme, established under the Structural Funds, has approved EU funding for the Border counties over the six years 1994-99 of approximately IR£7...More Button

The EU Community Support Framework for Ireland, 1994-1999 includes a commitment on the part of the Irish and UK Governments to maximise co-operation on Northern Ireland. This commitment to co-oper...More Button

Written Answers - Installation Aid Scheme.

Was asked: the conditions attached to the allocation of £2 million to allow the re-opening of installation aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The operation of installation aid is a matter for the Minister for Agriculture and Food.More Button

Written Answers - Value Added Tax.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that Paragraph (iii) of the First Schedule of the VAT Act provides for the exemption from VAT of “professional services of a medical nature”.More Button

This is in line with the provisions of the EU Sixth VAT Directive with which Irish VAT law must comply.More Button

Article 13A(1)(c) of the directive states that the exemption shall apply to “the provision of medical care in the exercise of the medical and paramedical professions as defined by the member state ...More Button

As the treatments concerned in the Deputy's question are not officially recognised as professional services of a medical nature in the State by either the Department of Health or the governing body...More Button

Such treatments do however benefit from the lower rate of VAT of 12.5 per cent, under the Sixth Schedule to the VAT Act, as “services consisting of care of the human body”.More Button

Because of this, practitioners who provide such services are entitled to recover VAT incurred on all purchases relating to the provision of such services. This is not the case with practitioners wh...More Button

Written Answers - Ministerial Meetings.

Was asked: the plans, if any, he has to meet the EU Commissioner for Regional Affairs, Monika Wulf-Mathies; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I have no specific plans at present to meet Commissioner Wulf-Mathies but I have no doubt that such a meeting, if necessary, could be arranged at short notice. Officials of my Department are in r...More Button

Written Answers - Computer Programmes.

Was asked: if he will report on the work concerned with the resolution of the year 2000 problem in view of the report in a newspaper (details supplied) of 15 November 1998 that some Government Departments are...More Button

The Government is treating the year 2000 problem very seriously and has instructed all Departments and offices to afford it top priority.More Button

Each Department and office is individually responsible for ensuring it achieves year 2000 compliance in good time. All of them have comprehensive year 2000 programmes in place and remedial work ha...More Button

The Government has also established an inter-departmental year 2000 monitoring committee, with private sector representation, to oversee the achievement of year 2000 compliance for IT systems and o...More Button

Service. The committee levies status updates on each Department/office every two months and, based on these updates, the committee reports to Government on the progress being achieved. The commit...More Button

Some delays have been experienced from time to time by a number of Departments/offices in progressing this year 2000 programmes. These have been caused primarily by staff losses and difficulties g...More Button

A number of actions have been taken to offset staff losses. Many Departments/offices have deferred planned IT projects and the staffing resources established for these projects have been diverted ...More Button

Senior management in all Departments/offices have been instructed to personally engage themselves in the year 2000 effort and implement whatever measures are necessary to ensure a timely response f...More Button

While a lot of work remains to be done, reasonable progress is being made and all Departments and offices are satisfied that they will achieve full compliance in good time.More Button

Written Answers - Conduct of Public Business.

Was asked: if he will report on progress since the formation of the Government in relation to promoting greater openness, accountability and democracy participation in the conduct of public business.More Button

Since its formation, the Government has progressed a range of measures to promote openness, accountability and participation in the conduct of public business. These include initiatives in the fol...More Button

The work programme of the centre reflects these roles. The Deputy will be aware that the Freedom of Information Act commenced on 21 April 1998 for Government Departments and certain Government bod...More Button

Local authorities and health boards came within the scope of the Act on 21 October 1998. Following consultation with the Minister for Health and Children, I have agreed to extend the Freedom of Inf...More Button

This lead in time is required to allow adequate time for preparation of publications required under the Act, training of staff and implementation of necessary organisational arrangements to handle ...More Button

The Deputy will be also be aware of the Government's proposals for a Standards in Public Office Bill which are aimed at restoring confidence in public life through a credible policing mechanism for...More Button

The programme for Government, An Action Programme for the Millennium, commits the Government to the restoration of real decision making and power to local authorities and local people. In this con...More Button

Under the Public Service Management Act, 1997 organisational arrangements for civil servants are being made more transparent and effective in a number of ways. The accountability of a Secretary Ge...More Button

Officers who have been assigned functions are now being made accountable, in statute, to their Secretary General and to their line manager as appropriate. Secretaries General, or other designated ...More Button

Subject to amendments to other legislation and consultation with staff, Secretaries General will exercise authority in relation to appointments, performance, discipline and dismissal of all civil s...More Button

Officers assigned duties will be directly accountable to the secretary general or other superior officers for the achievement of objectives and the delivery of specified outputs.More Button

Under the Committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Compellability, Privileges and Immunities of Witnesses) Act, 1997, all civil servants may be compelled to appear before an Oireachtas committee...More Button

The Deputy will be aware of proposals for a Comptroller and Auditor General and Committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Special Provisions) Bill 1998 which is currently before the Houses. This...More Button

The QCS initiative was launched in May 1997 with the adoption of the principles of QCS by participating Departments and offices. These principles include the setting of service standards, provisio...More Button

The customer service action plans of Departments and offices, published at end 1997 or early 1998, set out steps the organisations are taking to achieve full implementation of the principles by the...More Button

Regulatory reform is part of Delivering Better Government and is aimed at reducing red tape and increasing administrative simplification. This is important internationally in the interests of redu...More Button

Written Answers - Single Currency.

Was asked: the ceremonies, if any, he will attend to mark the launch of the single currency on 1 January 1999; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

In accordance with Article 109L(4) of the Treaty on European Union, the Council of Economics and Finance Ministers, ECOFIN, will, acting with the unanimity of the member states without a derogation...More Button

A joint communiqué of 1 December 1998 from the Council and the Commission announced that the Commission will propose the rates for adoption at 12.30 Central European time on 31 December 1998...More Button

I will be attending the council meeting in Brussels.More Button

A reception to mark Ireland's entry into EMU, the launch of the euro and the announcement of the conversion rates for the euro will be held on 31 December in Leinster House. Members of the Governme...More Button

Those attending the reception will be given an information pack, copies of which will be sent afterwards to all members of the Oireachtas, on preparations for the changeover to the euro, including ...More Button

With regard to ceremonies on 1 January 1999, it is planned to hold an event in the morning, in conjunction with the governor of the Central Bank, to which the Taoiseach and Tánaiste have be...More Button

Written Answers - Public Sector Pay.

Was asked: if he will elaborate on the points made on public sector pay in an interview recently published with a trade union magazine (details supplied).More Button

In the article in IMPACT News the Taoiseach spoke about the need for a new approach to public service pay in the period beyond Partnership 2000. Public service pay is an area of concern to t...More Button

We have seen the effects of the old approach over the last year. Pay increases achieved by one group of public service workers became the target increase for other groups on the basis of past rela...More Button

The effect of this system has been a major contributory factor to the substantial increases in the Exchequer pay and pensions bill in recent years. The pay and pensions bill increased by over 10 pe...More Button

Any new pay determination system must also support the culture of service to the public and the focus on improving service and performance which is part of the strategic management initiative acros...More Button

I expect discussions with the public services committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions on a new approach to public service pay in the period beyond Partnership 2000 to begin shortly.More Button

Written Answers - Third World Debt.

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the concerns surrounding enhanced structural adjustment facility funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: Ireland's policy in relation to contributing to the IMF's enhanced adjustment facility; if the policy is being changed; the consultations, if any, he has had with groups opposed to change; his view...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 105 and 111 together.More Button

I have been made fully aware of the concerns of the Debt and Development Coalition, and other organisations and individuals who have taken an interest in the alleviation of Third World debt and the...More Button

Since my appointment as Minister for Finance I have taken a deep interest in the issue of Third World debt and I have through my Department, maintained an open policy as regards contacts with all i...More Button

I have sought to give them assurances that Ireland will continue to use the influence available to it to work for the implementation of both ESAF and the debt initiative on the most favourable term...More Button

I am particularly pleased to note that the developing countries within the United Nations sponsored a resolution calling on developed countries to support the ESAF facility and the debt initiative ...More Button

I fully appreciate that neither HIPC nor ESAF are perfect instruments — no administrative system ever was — and I am determined to ensure the IMF and the World Bank take ownership and s...More Button

Written Answers - Income Tax.

Was asked: the net receipt of income tax in 1999 under PAYE, farmers and self-employed; the scope, if any, there is to reduce the burden of income tax that the PAYE worker contributes; and if he will make a s...More Button

The post-budget estimate for income tax payable by PAYE, farmers and other self-employed in 1999 is as follows:More Button

Notes:More Button

(¹) This figure is based on income tax collected through the PAYE mechanisms which covers more than income tax on ordinary wages and salaries. It includes tax paid by directors of close companies ...More Button

(²) Income tax on farming profits is collected with schedule D tax generally and figures of tax payments by farmers are, to some extent, estimated.More Button

(³) This heading includes tax paid on income from trades and professions, other than farming, together with tax paid on other income such as rent and other investment income. The figures also inclu...More Button

The amounts paid by each sector must be seen in the context of the relative numbers of taxpayers in the PAYE and self-employed, including farming sectors.More Button

The Government is committed to reducing the burden of personal income tax. In my first budget, in December last year, I introduced personal tax reliefs with a full year cost of £517 million....More Button

Written Answers - External Reserves.

Was asked: the level of Ireland's external reserves; the portion of these to be handed over to the European Central Bank on joining the EMU; the balance which will be left; if it has been decided what will be...More Button

In responding to the Deputy's question, I wish to clarify the position generally. All central banks hold assets of various kinds. In most countries, a proportion of those assets is held in foreig...More Button

With the establishment of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the adoption of the single currency, it will be the euro area as a whole rather than individual participating member states, such as Ir...More Button

The Central Bank of Ireland is transferring to the ECB the equivalent of around 419 million euro, or around £330 million, which will be Ireland's share of the ECB's pooled reserves. The amou...More Button

These will remain assets on the balance sheet of the Central Bank, although they will not be under the control of the bank. However, it should be noted that both the foreign reserves contribution ...More Button

This will leave a substantial amount of assets, both domestic euro assets, and foreign non-euro assets, with the Central Bank of Ireland. However, just because they are not needed as official exter...More Button

The Central Bank does have some assets which are not needed to meet liabilities, these are known as the bank's “accounting reserves”, However, the value of these reserves fluctuates, depending on c...More Button

As of the end of October 1998, the latest date for which published figures are available, the official external reserves, held by the Central Bank of Ireland, totalled £5,616 million. The ac...More Button

At this stage, it is too early to say what will happen to the balance sheet of the Central Bank in the early stages of the single currency. What we can say with certainty is that both the overall ...More Button

My Department has sought the advice of the Office of the Attorney General as to the legal position of the accounting reserves of the Central Bank. In summary, the advice is that any transfer of th...More Button

Written Answers - EU Tax Rates.

Was asked: the levels of local or other taxation payable in EU member states other than personal income tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I have no function in relation to tax rates in other member states, nor do I have comprehensive information about such rates which often vary from time to time. I can say however that the standard...More Button

Was asked: the way in which levels of personal taxation in Ireland compare to those in existence in other EU members states; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The following table includes taxes on personal income, including employee social security contributions, as a percentage of GDP and as a percentage of total taxation for Ireland and other EU countr...More Button

Written Answers - Euro Changeover.

Was asked: if he has satisfied himself that the degree of information, advertising and general promotion in respect of the euro changeover in Ireland is comparable to the information available in the United K...More Button

I am aware that the United Kingdom ran a media campaign about the euro directed at business earlier this year. I understand that there is no campaign of information about the euro for the general ...More Button

In relation to this country, I am very satisfied that the Euro Changeover Board of Ireland's (ECBI) public information campaign and the Forfás EMU Business Awareness Campaign have made a ver...More Button

Around 2.5 million public information leaflets have been made available by the ECBI, including one to every household last June, and some 88,000 posters have been distributed to schools, libraries ...More Button

In addition, the ECBI has run major advertising campaigns, in June and November, conducted an extensive training programme in the civil and public service and a set of information briefings for nat...More Button

The ECBI is also responsible for the administration of the EU-funded non-governmental organisation, NGO programme for euro information activities. Under this programme, a total of 26 NGO bodies ha...More Button

The ECBI has also set up a consultative panel to advise it on how to cater for those with special needs and to help it to disseminate information to them.More Button

A further extensive communications campaign is planned by the ECBI following the start of EMU on 1 January next.More Button

The Forfás EMU business awareness campaign, which has been running for two years now, has produced and disseminated, inter alia, a very extensive information pack, 45,000 copies, whic...More Button

Campaign material, outlining how firms should deal with EMU issues, has been distributed to over 140,000 businesses as part of a mailing by the Revenue Commissioners with company VAT returns. In a...More Button

Press and radio advertising campaigns have been run by the campaign, using national media, business journals and specialist publications, as well as national and local radio. Currently a press cam...More Button

The campaign has undertaken a number of surveys to monitor on an on-going basis the levels of preparations among Irish enterprises. Fieldwork for the third of these surveys is under way and will b...More Button

In addition to these two sources of information on the euro a wide range of public and private sector bodies is involved in promoting knowledge of the changeover. Details can be found in Appendix ...More Button

Written Answers - Pension Provisions.

Was asked: the plans, if any, he has to make additional allocations to semi-State pension funds similar to An Post and Telecom Éireann funds; if it is intended to make additional allocations to the sma...More Button

Under the Irish Aviation Authority Act, 1993, the Minister for Finance has liability for the pensions costs of staff of the authority in respect of service given in the Civil Service before the est...More Button

2000. While payments have been made since 1994 on a pay-as-you-go basis to discharge the current liability as it arose, no capital payments to meet the actuarial liability have yet been made. It...More Button

It is not proposed to make any additional payments in respect of any other outstanding pension liabilities in 1998. The White Paper also reflected a payment of £69 million to the small savin...More Button