Answered on June 27, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his attention has been drawn to the massive increases in commercial rates due to be levied on businesses in County Waterford on foot of a statutory revaluation of commercial rates in Waterford city and county; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Reply from Minister Brendan Howlin: As the Deputy will be aware, the national revaluation programme aims to provide up-to-date valuations for individual properties across all economic sectors that are subject to local authority rates. The revaluation process is the mechanism whereby economic changes that take place in the property market are reflected in the valuation lists for rates purposes and in individual ratepayers’ rates liabilities. The national revaluation programme is a priority for Government and is a feature of the Action Plan for Jobs 2012. The programme is particularly important given the significant changes that have occurred in rental values following the economic downturn of recent years. The purpose of a revaluation is to distribute commercial rates liabilities more equitably among ratepayers based on up-to-date values. Following revaluation, there will be a much closer relationship between rental value and commercial rates liability. Even though property values have fallen generally, given that the purpose is to redistribute the overall rates liability, some ratepayers will obtain a reduction while others will experience an increase from the process of redistribution but, overall, revaluation results in a fairer distribution of the rates burden.
Answered on June 26, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if his attention has been drawn to Eurostat data showing that citizens of other EU states living here had a higher employment rate than Irish nationals in 2012; and the reason, in his view, this is the case.
Reply from Minister Richard Bruton: Higher employment rates among migrants when compared to the native populations in their destination countries is a common and observable feature internationally. This may be explained by several factors:
Firstly, movers from the EU-12 (i.e. all recently accessed countries including EU-10 and EU-2) tend to be on average younger than the overall population in their destination countries, this will impact on relativities with native populations which will have a larger proportion of people outside of the working age.
Often migrants enter a country without family members for both practical reasons and due to the typical age profile of migrants which are often relatively young and may not yet have started a family. This can affect statistics in that migrants may not have the same level of non-working adult dependents as native populations.
Furthermore, mobile workers invariably have fewer ties to their receiving country. They have a predisposition to exit the country during periods of economic downturn, reflecting the fact that the main reason for their move abroad was to find work.
In sixteen EU Member States, working age citizens of other EU countries had a higher rate of employment than the rate for nationals of their receiving country. Rates were highest in Slovenia (80.2), Latvia (76.6), the Netherlands (76.1), the United Kingdom (75.9) and Poland (75.8). The gap between the average employment rate of working age citizens of other EU countries and the local population is highest in Italy, the UK, the Czech Republic and Luxembourg. It should be noted that using the EU LFS to estimate the number and characteristics of resident foreigners, and in particular "EU foreigners", can suffer limitations. Among these limitations, in the case of Slovenia, Latvia and Poland, are the small sample size which affects the reliability of data broken down by citizenship.
In recent years the annual EU Labour Force Surveys have shown that working age citizens from the EU-10 (the group of ten countries that joined the European Union in 2004) and the EU-2 (Bulgaria and Romania acceded in 2007) had a higher rate of employment on average when they moved abroad than the residents in the receiving EU-15 countries (by a difference of +9 percentage points in 2010). Since 85% of the EU-10 as well as the EU-2 nationals living in other Member States are of working age (i.e. aged 15-64) compared to 67% of the total resident population, intra-EU movers from the EU-10 and EU-2 countries are more likely to be in the economically productive period of their lives than the native population in the receiving countries.
Answered on June 18, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will outline in further detail the number and type of jobs to be created by the new Irish Water utility company; and the latest timeframe for recruitment to these positions.
Reply from Minister Phil Hogan: To date the establishment of Irish Water has been supported by the Programme Office within Bord Gáis, and a number of local authority and Departmental staff have been seconded to the Office to assist in this work.
The permanent Irish Water organisation is due to be incorporated shortly and currently has six staff. On-going work on a detailed Target Operating Model for the permanent organisation will be finalised in the near future and opportunities will be available for staff in local authorities to apply for jobs in the permanent organisation. It is intended that the legislation to transfer statutory responsibility for water services to Irish Water will provide for local authorities to act as agents for Irish Water with this relationship being expressed through Service Level Agreements. The majority of the existing staff will remain employees of local authorities working under such arrangements.
Answered on June 18, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to improve the practical skills of third level graduates in the information communications technology sector before they enter the workplace.
Reply from Minister Ruairí Quinn: Work placements have a key role to play in helping students to develop the practical work place skills required by employers. In recent years higher education institutions have expanded the work placement opportunities available to students in ICT and other disciplines and the National Strategy for Higher Education recommends further expanding work placement and service learning opportunities across higher education programmes.
The joint Government-Industry Action Plan, which I launched in January 2012, contains a comprehensive, system wide response aimed at building the supply of high quality ICT graduates. As part of the Plan almost 1,500 places have been provided for graduate jobseekers on intensive honours degree level ICT conversion courses. The courses, which are designed and delivered in partnership with industry, all contain a structured work placement.
The Action Plan also provided for the establishment of a high level Academic Industry Foresight Group chaired by the Chair of HEA and with strong high level industry membership. The Group, which was established in January 2012, has a work programme to review existing provision and ensure that third level ICT programme development is aligned to enterprise skills needs.
Answered on June 11, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Taoiseach the percentage of the overall workforce that is employed in small and medium enterprises.
Reply from Minister of State, Paul Kehoe: The breakdown requested by the Deputy is included in Table 1 (right). The year 2010 is the latest reference year for which final data is available. Data from 2006 – 2010 is included for comparison purposes.
The source of the estimates is the Business Demography series as published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are defined as follows:
1. Small Enterprises: less than 50 persons engaged.
2. Medium Enterprises: between 50 and 249 persons engaged.
3. Large Enterprises: greater than 250 persons engaged.
The enterprise figures quoted relate to the private business economy, which includes Industry, Construction and Services in NACE Rev 2 sectors B – N (excluding 64.20 “Activities of holding companies”). Enterprises in the Public Sector, Health, Education and Agriculture are not covered.
The following should be noted when analysing the figures provided above. The figures provided are on a “person engaged in employment” basis and not on an employee basis. The definitions used are:
1. Persons engaged, includes employees, proprietors and family members.
2. Employees are persons who are paid a fixed wage or salary. Persons at work or temporarily absent because of illness, holidays, strike etc, are included. Persons working on a labour-only subcontract basis are excluded.
3. Proprietors and family members; included here are those proprietors (partners etc) and members of their families who work regularly in the firm and are not paid a definite wage or salary.
The Business Demography Press Release of 22 June 2012 is available HERE.
::: The world's largest beet sugar factory at Wissington, Norfolk, UK.
May 30, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the estimate for the overall capital cost costs involved in building a manufacturing plant for the production of sugar.
Reply from Minister Simon Coveney: I would like to give the Deputy the background to this issue. The EU Sugar Regime underwent a radical reform in 2005 following major EU decisions to restructure the industry. A temporary restructuring scheme was introduced with the aim of reducing EU sugar production. Greencore, the holder of the entire Irish sugar quota, availed of this voluntary scheme, dismantled its facilities and ceased production in 2006. Ireland secured €353 million as part of the reform package of which €220 million went to beet growers, €127 million to Greencore and €6 million to machinery contractors. There is no mechanism under the present EU Regulations which would allow for the reinstatement of the sugar quota for the growing of sugar beet in Ireland for the production of sugar.
I know you will be aware that in 2011 I met with two separate groups which had conducted feasibility studies, into the possibility of establishing a new sugar/bioethanol facility in the country. I understand from figures published by the interested groups who are investigating the possibility of building a new facility, that the overall capital cost costs involved could range from €250 million to €400 million, depending on what type of facility will be constructed.
May 30, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Finance the level of lending to small and medium enterprises by State controlled banks over the past three years.
Reply from Minister Michael Noonan: As the Deputy is aware, the Government has imposed SME lending targets on the two domestic pillar banks for the three calendar years, 2011 to 2013. Each bank was required to sanction lending of at least €3 billion in 2011, €3.5 billion in 2012 and €4 billion in 2013 for new or increased credit facilities to SMEs. Both banks have reported that they achieved their 2011 and 2012 targets.
The pillar banks are required to submit their lending plans to the Department and the Credit Review Office (CRO) at the beginning of each year, outlining how they intend to achieve their lending targets. The banks have submitted their lending plans for 2013 to my Department. My Department, in conjunction with the CRO, has analysed the plans and has met with the banks to discuss them. At the end of the first quarter 2013, both banks are on schedule to meet their targets. The Credit Reviewer has stated in his last report that over €8bn was sanctioned by the banks in 2012, of which approximately €2.5bn (27%) is new lending drawn down.
Separately, the Central Bank of Ireland publishes data on lending to Small and Medium Enterprises by all credit institutions resident in the Republic of Ireland, and commenced compiling these data in March 2010. These figures show that total gross new lending drawdowns by non-financial SMEs between March 2010 and December 2012 amounted to €8.7 billion. (Gross new lending drawdowns refer to funds accessed by SME customers during the period which were not included in the previous period’s stock of credit advanced. This excludes the value of renegotiations/restructures that takes place during the period. It is also not equivalent to sanctioning activity, nor does it cover contingent liabilities, such as letters of credit or similar guarantees. Non-financial SME credit excludes lending to certain financial vehicle corporations in the financial intermediation sector, as their balance sheet size brings them into the SME category.) This is available HERE.
The Central Bank of Ireland does not publish these data separately for state controlled banks. Data for March 2013 are due to be published before the end of June.
May 30, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Social Protection her strategy to tackle long-term youth employment.
Reply from Minister Joan Burton: The official labour market figures published by the CSO indicated that the number of young unemployed at the end of 2012 was 59,000, of whom 27,300 were long-term (over one year) unemployed. The number of young long term unemployed represented a fall of 8,300 on the figure of 35,600 at the end of 2011.
In the first instance, the Government’s primary strategy to tackle all forms of unemployment is to create the environment for a strong economic recovery by promoting competitiveness and productivity. Economic recovery will underpin jobs growth. Past experience suggests that youth unemployment, which tends to rise relatively rapidly in a downturn, can be expected to fall relatively rapidly during the recovery.
The Government is also implementing a number of programmes to assist young unemployed persons and keep young jobseekers close to the labour market. There are five main approaches being taken to tackle youth unemployment: education, training, job search assistance/guidance, work experience, and encouraging job creation. These actions range across a number of Departments and Agencies and include:
May 30, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide details of the number of persons who have entered the JobBridge national internship scheme in each of the past three years.
Reply from Minister Joan Burton: JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme, came into operation on 1st July, 2011. The Scheme has made very significant progress in a relatively short period of time. I wish to advise the Deputy that 3,748 internships had commenced as at year end 2011. An additional 9,725 internships commenced in 2012. An additional 4,136 internships have commenced so far in 2013. In total 17,609 internships have commenced to-date.
May 29, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills, further to Parliamentary Question No. 231 of 5 March 2013, the progress that has been made by the new Quality and Qualifications Ireland to finally enable aspirant providers to apply for FETAC level accreditation; and when new applications will be accepted.
Reply from Minister Ruairí Quinn: I can inform the Deputy that, since his previous question on this issue, QQI have published a number of Green Papers on various policy areas which are available on the QQI website, dealing with subjects such as Awards and Standards, Certification, Access to Programme Accreditation, Recognition of Prior Learning and Quality Assurance. The purpose of these Green Papers is to inform the Comprehensive Policy Development Programme which QQI is undertaking with all of its stakeholders. Consultation events held by QQI in Dublin on 20 May and Cork on 28 May were attended by approximately 500 stakeholders and will inform the development of policy.
Following the receipt of submissions from interested parties over the summer months, new policies will be introduced in September to enable those providers who do not currently have a relationship with QQI to have access to external quality assurance and awards.
It should be noted that while QQI has not been accepting new applications for recognition while these policies are being developed, it has been liaising with the providers concerned. In March 2013, QQI issued a questionnaire to 105 such providers and it continues to issue the questionnaire to potential applicants. The purpose of the questionnaire is to gather information on the providers and will assist when the provider application process reopens.
Dáil Éireann allocates a certain amount of time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during which Deputies may ask questions of Members of the Government relating to Public Affairs connected with their Departments, or on matters of administration for whch they are officially responsible. The Taoiseach answers questions on his own Department on Tuesdays/Wednesdays.