Wednesday, 1 July 2015
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Coillte Teoranta Reports
25. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide the most recent Forest Service reports into Coillte's corporate governance, carried out on an annual basis as part of the Forest Service's regulatory remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26101/15]
Coillte Teoranta was established as a private commercial company under the Forestry Act 1988 and, as a State owned body, the company is also subject to the ‘Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies’as issued by the Department of Finance, most recently in 2009.
As responsibility for forestry falls within the remit of my Department, the Forestry Division of my Department monitors the compliance of the company with the provisions of the company’s governing legislation, namely the Forestry Act 1988, and the requirements in the Code of Practice. The corporate governance of Coillte has also been enhanced by the establishment of NewERA as Coillte is one of the commercial State companies which fall within its remit. As Coillte is engaged in forestry activities such as harvesting, it is also subject to the provisions of the Forestry Act 1946, the operation of which falls within the remit of my Department.
The oversight role of my Department in relation to the corporate governance of Coillte is carried out on an ongoing basis. This encompasses the submission of reports by the deadlines stated in the Code of Practice and their consideration. It also encompasses the consideration of the various consents for approval which the company is required to obtain for proposed investments or certain actions under the Forestry Act 1988.
In relation to the financial performance of the company, including turnover, debt level and investment plans, the shareholders of the company, namely the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and I, are specifically assisted in these matters by NewERA, with regular quarterly meetings held between Coillte, NewERA, my officials and representatives of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Meetings may also be held, separate from those standard quarterly meetings, to deal with specific issues as they arise.
Section D of the Code of Practice deals specifically with Relations with the Oireachtas and the Minister, encompassing Departmental oversight, the Report and Accounts of State Bodies and Additional Reporting Arrangements. Under the Code, the Chairman of Coillte is required to confirm a number of aspects in relation to the management of the company to me. His report is accordingly received each year and is reviewed by my Department to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Code. As the report provided by the Chairman contains confidential and commercially sensitive information, it would not be appropriate for me to provide copies of these reports, nor is it a requirement of the Code. The Annual Report of the company is, however, laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas each year and is available both in the Oireachtas Library and on the Company’s website. Forestry Division does not prepare a formal report each year on Coillte’s corporate governance. I am, however, updated on an ongoing basis and throughout the year about developments and issues pertaining to Coillte.