Deputy John Deasy: I raised an issue last week about the Valuation Office. The Chairman offered to consider inviting the office to appear before the committee. Can we make that request as soon as possible?
Chairman (Deputy John McGuinness): Yes, we are doing that. When did the Deputy have in mind for this meeting? I would like to know what kind of pressure we are under.
Deputy John Deasy: There is a major issue among businesses in my constituency with regard to valuations being made by the Valuation Office. It is clear that many will go out of business. This is relevant to the work of this committee and the taxpayer because of the massive amounts of commercial rates being written off and the massive arrears in local authorities, which are going up. There is an association between what the Valuation Office is doing and how much money is effectively not being collected. Issues arise from the general administration of the Valuation Office and how it goes about its business. There is a loss to the taxpayer. We need to examine this because economic times have changed and some say it is not going to get better any time soon. We need to consider the effect the valuations being put on businesses and the ratings involved are having on business. Can we invite the representatives of the Valuation Office on that basis as soon as possible?
Deputy Robert Dowds (Lab): I support that request and would be interested to see the difference in impact in counties in which the new system has come in compared to the old system. I know that will not give a full picture because they were different economic times, but it is important to have a decent system of commercial rates and it is important that businesses can survive.
Chairman: We will ask the Valuation Office to come in at the earliest possible date. Some of those matters might be taken up in a general way today with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.
Deputy John Deasy: Deputy Dowds has raised the other big issue in this respect, which is the introduction of the Valuation (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2012. This completely changes the way in which businesses are assessed. We are moving towards a system of self-assessment and the Valuation Office will have views on that and when and whether it should be expedited through the Government. What will it mean to have two separate systems of assessment once that Bill is enacted and how will their administration work, in some cases in two different parts of the country? All of those issues need to be teased out with the Valuation Office.
Chairman: We will set an early date for that meeting.