Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 219 - Black economy issues. [9619/14]

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 219 - Black economy issues. [9619/14]. (25 Feb 2014)

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 219. Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider setting up an informal working group, to include, among others, representatives from the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, Members of the Oireachtas and representatives from his Department, to examine proposals to reduce the loss of revenue to the State from the impact of the illicit sale of goods; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [9619/14] 

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): The illicit sale of goods and other shadow economy practices are matters that concern me greatly and I am very mindful of the loss of revenue to the State and the unfair competitive advantage to be gained by those businesses engaged in unregistered and illicit trading.  The Deputy will be aware that I introduced a range of measures in Finance (No. 2) Act 2013 which was specifically aimed at countering a number of shadow economy practices.  I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they are well advanced in a targeted implementation of the measures in question. I am also advised by the Revenue Commissioners that their tax and duty compliance programmes are under constant review to ensure that they are focussed on the areas of greatest risk, specifically risks from illicit traders who constitute part of the overall shadow economy. 


The Deputy may wish to note that Revenue chairs a working group, known as the Hidden Economy Monitoring Group (HEMG), which includes representatives from employer and business organisations, trade unions and other Government Departments and agencies.  The HEMG provides a forum for the various stakeholders to exchange views on the effectiveness of measures introduced in combating the hidden economy.  Regional and sectoral liaison groups have been established to facilitate greater local interaction between business and the relevant Government Departments and agencies.  Through these fora and bilateral engagement with business representative organisations, Revenue encourages the supply of useful specific information about shadow economy activity, and has expressed some disappointment at the poor engagement on this aspect.


Regarding Oireachtas members, it is open to any of the relevant Oireachtas Committees to examine matters appropriate to their remit and the sale of illicit goods, including illegal fuels, tobacco and counterfeit products, has been discussed with Revenue officials by a number of Oireachtas Committees in recent times.  For example, the Joint Committee on Health & Children has considered the question of illicit tobacco sales, and the Joint Committee on Transport & Communications has discussed the sale of illegal fuels.  Indeed, as you will be aware in your capacity as Chair, the Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation has also examined wider shadow economy issues, including its impact on legitimate trade.


I am also advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners, in her appearance before the Committee of Public Accounts last week in connection with the 2012 Annual Report of the Comptroller & Auditor General, was asked by the Chairman of the Committee to provide a report for the Committee on the current state of play concerning the sale of illegal fuels and tobacco.


I am satisfied that the whole subject of the illicit sale of goods and the consequent loss of revenue to the State is a major priority for my Department and for the Revenue Commissioners.  Having considered the Deputy s proposal, I believe that the setting up of an informal working group could be a useful additional initiative to complement the very important initiatives that I have already set out.  I have asked my officials to contact the Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to discuss the arrangements for such an informal working group.

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
Alcohol, Tobacco / Nicotine
Intervention Type
25 February 2014

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