Questions for Minister for Finance

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Economy, Oral Questions

QUESTION NO: 36

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan)
by Deputy Clare Daly
for ORAL ANSWER on 05/11/2014

To ask the Minister for Finance the reason a defined benefit pension scheme was established for staff in the National Asset Management Agency, in view of the undermining of these schemes in other employments and the failure to assist workers in these companies.

REPLY.

I wish to advise that the defined pension scheme was not established for staff of NAMA. As the Deputy will be aware, NAMA staff are employees of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) and assigned to NAMA under Section 42 of the National Asset Management Agency Act 2009.

Superannuation entitlements of NTMA staff are conferred under a defined benefit superannuation scheme set up under Section 8 of the National Treasury Management Agency Act 1990.  Members of the Scheme from 1 January 2010 will receive benefits based on career average earnings. The Deputy will be aware that the NTMA started recruiting staff for NAMA after this date.

The arrangements set out above apply to NTMA employees assigned to NAMA in the same way as to other NTMA employees.  The public service pension deduction is applied to NTMA employees.

QUESTION NO: 38

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan)
by Deputy Clare Daly
for ORAL ANSWER on 05/11/2014

To ask the Minister for Finance his views in relation to the promised changes to the statutory instruments for the pyrite exemption from the local property tax, in the context of cases (details supplied) and his proposals to resolve this clear anomaly

REPLY.

As I previously advised the Deputy in response to Parliamentary Questions no. 14 (37016/14) and no. 31 (37015/14) on 2/10/14 officials of my Department, with officials of the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government, are examining the alternatives other than testing that may be available in order to confirm entitlement to a Local Property Tax (LPT) exemption.

While I am conscious of the anomaly to which the Deputy refers, it is important that any changes that may be made do not go beyond the objectives of providing a temporary exemption for homes with “significant pyritic damage” only. As I have advised on many occasions in the past, a liability to LPT should apply to all owners of residential property with a limited number of exemptions.  Limiting the exemptions available allows the rate to be kept low for those liable persons who do not qualify for an exemption.

The Deputy may be aware that the purpose of the Building Condition Assessment (BCA) required by the Pyrite Resolution Board’s Pyrite Remediation Scheme is to demonstrate damage and to inform whether sampling and testing of the sub-floor hardcore of the residential property should be undertaken in order to confirm that such damage arises from pyrite. The BCA does not involve any invasive internal or external inspections to a residential property and, on its own, cannot be used to state conclusively that reactive pyrite is present in the sub-floor hardcore of the property.

The exemption from LPT based on “significant pyritic damage” has been comprehensively dealt with in a number of Parliamentary Questions this year, including Questions no 217 on 18/2/14 (8212/14), no. 121 on 30/4/14 (19698/14) and no. 43 on 19/6/14 (26462/14).

Unless and until the LPT legislation is changed, Revenue has an obligation to act in accordance with section 10A of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (as amended) which requires that an LPT exemption can  apply only where the residential property has been assessed and a certificate confirming “significant pyritic damage” has been issued. This is the only type of certificate that is relevant and a homeowner cannot claim the exemption until it has been issued.

LPT operates on a self-assessment basis and it is a matter for the property owner in the first instance, to calculate the tax due based on his or her assessment of the market value of the property. When making an assessment, issues such as the presence of pyrite would be one of the factors that a property owner could take into account in valuing their property.