To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will explain the differentiation in lower urban and higher rural standing and usage charges applied by Electric Ireland to its customers; and if this price gap will be reduced in favour of rural consumers if and when the existing transmission infrastructure is upgraded.
Reply from Minister Rabbitte: I have no function in this matter. Responsibility for the regulation of the electricity market is a matter for the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) which is an independent regulator.
The CER was assigned responsibility for the regulation of the Irish electricity sector following the enactment of the Electricity Regulation Act, 1999 and subsequent legislation. Since April 2011 prices in the electricity market have been deregulated and business and domestic customers can as a result avail of competitive offerings from a number of supply companies. It is a function of the CER to regulate the electricity market.
Questions regarding the pricing practices of electricity supply companies should be directed towards the relevant companies or addressed to the CER.
I have no statutory function in the matter of the regulation of electricity prices.
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide a breakdown of income generated by Electric Ireland from residential electricity charges in the 12 months up to 1 October, 2012, and in the subsequent 12 month period to 1 October, 2013.
Reply from Minister Pat Rabbitte: Responsibility for the regulation of the electricity and gas markets is a matter for the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), the independent National Regulatory Authority for energy.
The CER was assigned responsibility for the regulation of the Irish electricity sector following the enactment of the Electricity Regulation Act, 1999 and subsequent legislation. The CER's responsibilities include the liberalisation of the electricity retail (supply) market in order to encourage the entry of competition and new investment.
Market rules have been established for the retail electricity and gas markets. It is a function of the CER to regulate the electricity and gas markets, to monitor competition and to monitor compliance by industry with legislation. This is a matter in which I, as Minister, have no statutory role or function.
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
To ask the Minister for Finance the annual cost to the Exchequer, across all Departments, of maintaining Farmleigh House, Dublin; and the number of overnight State visitors, high-level meeting delegates, and members of the public who attended events there in the years 2010 and 2012.
Reply from the Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Brian Hayes: The following are the figures requested by Deputy Deasy:
Annual Operational Costs
Operational and maintenance costs: €2,805,515
Gas and Electricity: €150,341
Operational and maintenance costs: €2,798,623
Gas and Electricity: €182,668
Answered on June 18, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a new European Commission study, The Gender Gap in Pensions in the EU, indicates that Irish women aged 65 years and over receive an average pension which is 35% lower than the average for Irish men in the same age group; her view on the reason for this imbalance; and the efforts being made to address same.
Reply from Minister Joan Burton: The recently published European Commission report, ‘The Gender Gap in Pensions in the EU’, deals with the gender gap in pensions across Europe and is the first study of its kind. The study reveals that across the 27 EU Member States, women who are currently in receipt of pensions, receive average amounts which are 39% lower than those of men. For Ireland, the report indicates this pensions gender gap is 35%.
The report considers total income received from all sources including State, occupational and private pensions. I am pleased to note that for those on modest levels of income, which would broadly include the State pension, the report details that the gender pensions gap in Ireland is considerably lower at 3.5% compared to the EU average of 48.7%. This indicates that the Irish State pension has been successful in providing citizens with a basic level of income in a more gender balanced manner than our European counterparts.
Answered on June 11, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount of funding Waterford Airport Company has received from his Department under the capital expenditure grant scheme in each of the past eight years, 2013 inclusive.
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount of funding Waterford Airport Company has received from his Department under the regional airports operational expenditure subvention scheme in each of the past eight years, 2013 inclusive.
Reply by Minister Leo Varadkar: (I propose to take Questions Nos 1093 and 1094 together.) Exchequer funding provided to Waterford Airport under the capital expenditure grant (Capex) scheme and under the operational expenditure subvention (Opex) scheme from 2006 to date is set out in the following table:
Answered on June 11, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount of funding each local authority in County Waterford has received from his Department under the transport capital investment programme’s roads sub-programme in each of the past six years.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount of funding each local authority in County Waterford has received from his Department under the non-national roads grants programme in each of the past six years.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount of funding each local authority in County Waterford has received from his Department under the national roads programme in each of the past seven years.
Replies from Minister Leo Varadkar: (I propose to answer questions 1087 ,1090 and 1091 together.) Details of funding for regional and local roads provided by my Department to local authorities in County Waterford are outlined in the regional and local road payment booklets available in the Dáil Library.
With regard to national roads, details of the allocations to each local authorities are also available in the Dail library. However, details of the actual drawdowns for these roads are a matter for the National Roads Authority.
Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy’s question to the NRA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you don’t receive a reply within 10 working days.
Answered on June 11, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide trade figures between Ireland and China for each of the past five years.
Reply from Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore: The Central Statistics Office (CSO) of Ireland compiles external trade figures for Ireland, which are available at www.cso.ie. The trade figures outlined below for China include total merchandise trade and total trade in services between Ireland and China, including Hong Kong and Macau, for the period January 2008 to December 2012.
In 2008, total bilateral trade between Ireland and China was €8,907 million (m). Total bilateral merchandise trade was valued at €6,600m; with exports worth €2,325m and imports worth €4,275m. Total bilateral trade in services was valued at €2,307m; exports were worth €1,625m and imports worth €682m.
Total bilateral trade in 2009 was valued at €7,144m; with total bilateral merchandise trade valued at €5,209m. Of this figure, €2,330m were exports and €2,879m were imports. Bilateral trade in services totalled €1,935 m; exports at €1,648m and imports at €317m.
Total bilateral trade with China totalled €7,603m in 2010. Total bilateral merchandise trade valued €5,249m; with exports at €2,494m and imports at €2,755m. Total bilateral trade in services were valued at €2,354m with exports worth €1,943m and imports worth €411m.
In 2011, total bilateral trade with China was valued at €7,824m. Total bilateral merchandise trade was worth €5,155m with exports worth €2,453m and imports worth €2,702m. Total bilateral trade in services was worth €2,669m; exports and imports were valued at €2,471m and €325m respectively.
In 2012, total bilateral merchandise trade between Ireland and China was valued at €5,027m; exports €2,167 and imports €2,860. Figures for trade in services for this period will become available from the CSO in September of this year.
From a broader perspective, in 2012, total bilateral trade (imports to and exports from Ireland) increased by 4.7% to €318.5 billion. Total exports increased by over 5% in 2011 in nominal terms and by over 5.5% in 2012. Exports are almost evenly divided between goods and services, with almost all of our export growth in 2012 accounted for by services exports, which grew by 11%. This overall trend is evident in trade with China where our merchandise exports decreased in 2012; in large part due to the ‘patent cliff’ in respect of pharmaceuticals while our exports of services increased by 52% over the period 2008-2011.
::: 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.
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.