Dáil Éireann - Volume 495 - 14 October, 1998

Written Answers. - Tax Incentives.

[439] 56. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the tax incentive schemes announced in 1997 and 1998 which are not yet operational; the reasons for the delay; and when arrangements will finally be put in place and the period of time involved for the capital allowances scheme for the development of the fishing fleet. [19471/98]

58. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the tax incentive schemes announced in 1997 and 1998 which are not yet operational; the reasons for the delay; and when arrangements will finally be put in place and the period of time involved for the business and technology park near Cork airport. [19472/98]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 56 and 58 together.

The capital allowances for the development of the whitefish fleet commenced on 4 September 1998.

As regards the regional airports enterprise areas, the Deputy is probably aware that in May 1997, the Competition Directorate of the EU Commission sought detailed information on the new tax reliefs for the new enterprise areas provided in the Finance Act, 1997 including the regional airports enterprise areas. This was on foot of an article in the Irish media publicising the new schemes. The EU Commission then initiated a full investigation into the enterprise areas scheme. Last December, the EU Commission decided to approve the tax reliefs for existing and some new enterprise areas in the context of State aids but the decision did not cover the regional airports enterprise areas. EU officials have since informed my Department that the rates relief and double rent relief will not be approved by the EU Commission whenever a submission is made to them seeking EU approval for tax designation at any of the regional airport enterprise areas. However, it is understood at present that there is no EU Commission objection to the provision of capital allowances.

The approval of qualifying companies to operate in a regional airport enterprise area is through a certification process involving, inter alia, Forfás and the Ministers for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and Finance. Therefore, when projects for the regional airports enterprise areas are approved by the Irish authorities and areas are then designated, they will be submitted to the EU Commission for approval in respect of the capital allowances.

Neither my Department nor Forfás has yet received any applications for designation for specific projects at the proposed business and technology park at Cork Airport.

In regard to other tax incentive schemes, the reason for the delay arises from the need to secure EU approval on which discussions are ongoing. These schemes are: the extension of tax reliefs for the Custom House Docks area in Dublin beyond 24 January 1999, the new urban [440] renewal scheme, the business incentives elements in the new rural renewal scheme, the tax incentives for investment in wind energy and other forms of renewable energy, and the special tax allowance for seafarers.

As soon as EU approval is obtained the relevant commencement orders will be made.