Dáil Questions: Finance

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Ministering Noonan immune to any concerns in relation to pensioners being deprived of their retirement livelihood’s as a result of the manner in which he has imposed the pension levy… An intransigence matched by his shrugging of the shoulders in relation to ongoing privatisation at AIB where he is the principal shareholder.

QUESTION NO: 115
To ask the Minister for Finance if he will make provision for the recovery of the 2.53% Stamp Duty Pension Levy to members of the Irish Airlines (General Employees) Superannuation Scheme, through the taxation system, particularly if it is proposed by the Minister for Public Expenditure, as per the Lansdowne Road Agreement, to reduce, from 2016, the Pension Levy deductions for Public Sector employees that were applied under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts, and in view of the fact that most of the pensionable service years of retired pensioners in the Scheme were earned while employed in the Public Sector, but that none of the Public Sector threshold Pension Levy exemptions have been applied to them.

REPLY.

This question refers to two separate and distinct measures. The first measure referred to is the stamp duty levies applying to the assets of funded pension arrangements introduced in 2011 to pay for the Jobs Initiative, the chargeable persons for which are the trustees of pension schemes and others responsible for the management of pension fund assets. The second measure is the pension-related deduction (PRD) which has applied to the remuneration of public servants since 2009.

The original 0.6% stamp duty levy on pension fund assets ended last year. The additional levy of 0.15% which I introduced for 2014 and 2015, mainly to help continue to fund Jobs Initiative, will also end after this year.

The position is that the equivalent value of all of the money raised from the stamp duty levy has been used to fund the wide range of measures introduced in the Jobs Initiative to protect existing jobs and to help create new jobs and the Initiative has been a success in this regard. The measures introduced include expenditure measures such as the Jobbridge and Springboard schemes, as well as a number of tax and PRSI incentives such as the reduction in the VAT rate from 13.5% to 9% for the tourism and hospitality sectors and the halving of the lower employer PRSI rate.

While the pension fund levies have ceased and will be ceased as I have already outlined, I have no plans to repay the pension fund levy collected as may be implied in the question. The value of the funds raised by way of the levy have been used to protect and create jobs and this has helped to create the improving financial and economic position of the State. Taxpayers to whom the impact of the levy may have been passed on by the chargeable persons responsible for the payment of the levy (the pension scheme trustees etc) will benefit from the changes which I began in Budget 2015 and which will continue in future Budgets to reduce the income tax burden on low and middle income earners.

With regard to the PRD, I am informed by my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform that the application of the PRD to public servants resulted in an average reduction of some 7% in the remuneration of public servants (from March 2009) and was followed by a further reduction of 6% from 1 January 2010 in the remuneration rates applicable to public servants. A third pay reduction applied to public servants earning in excess of €65,000 with effect from 1 July 2013 at rates ranging from 5.5% to 10%. I am further informed that these various reductions did not apply to employees of the organisations which form the membership of the pension scheme referred to in the question as they are not public service bodies for the purpose of the Financial Emergency Measures legislation under which these measures were introduced.

Finally, while changes to the PRD are proposed from next year under the Lansdowne Road Agreement which will result in reductions in the PRD, particularly affecting public servants on low and middle incomes, there is no provision for the repayment of PRD already deducted from the remuneration of affected public servants.

QUESTION NO: 121
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan)
by Deputy Clare Daly
for ORAL ANSWER on 23/06/2015

To ask the Minister for Finance as the representative of Allied Irish Bank’s principal shareholder, if he will oppose any plans to outsource work and staff from that bank’s Application and Development Management Teams within its Information Technology Division to a third-party service provider.

REPLY.

As the Deputy will be aware under the Relationship Frameworks the State does not intervene in the day to day operations of the banks in which it holds investments or their management decisions regarding commercial matters and hence any discussions around matters such as outsourcing are a matter for the bank, the relevant staff and their union representatives. Notwithstanding this position, my officials do take an active interest in how the bank’s cost base evolves to ensure that the State’s interests as shareholder are protected and to ensure that the Government’s remuneration policy is enforced.

The bank has previously indicated that as part of its restructuring plan to reduce costs and increase efficiencies, outsourcing of certain functions would be considered in consultation with unions and affected staff. I have also been informed by the bank that there have been no comp ulsory redundancies as a result of its recent outsourcing activities. Any staff who transfer under outsourcing arrangements transfer under the TUPE regulations.

I have been informed that AIB has not at this stage confirmed any agreement to outsource some of its technology services in Application and Development Management teams to a third party provider. Should any such decision be confirmed, then affected staff will be informed immediately and AIB will enter into a full process of information and consultation with employee representatives, as required both by law and under engagement principles agreed with the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA).