Written answers

Thursday, 4 July 2024

Photo of Matt CarthyMatt Carthy (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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83. To ask the Minister for Finance the basis upon which it was decided to divest from some but not other companies which derive profit from their activities in illegal Israeli settlements within the state of Palestine; and the amount of funds currently invested. [28527/24]

Photo of John BradyJohn Brady (Wicklow, Sinn Fein)
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91. To ask the Minister for Finance to provide an update on his Department’s consideration of the Illegal Israeli Settlement Divestment Bill 2023; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28576/24]

Photo of Jack ChambersJack Chambers (Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 83 and 91 together.

On the 20th of March 2024, the Director of the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) attended the Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach hearing on Pre-Committee Stage Scrutiny of the Illegal Israeli Settlements Divestment Bill 2023.

At that Committee meeting, the ISIF Director outlined that as at 31 December 2023 ISIF’s direct investments in companies on the UN database totalled approximately €4.2 million in 11 companies.

He also outlined that the ISIF’s indirect investments include 8 companies totalling approximately €9.4 million. ISIF has since taken an investment decision to divest from six of these companies with a total value of approximately €2.95m.

The six companies are:

Bank Hapoalim BM;

Bank Leumi-le Israel BM;

Israel Discount Bank Ltd;

Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd;

First International Bank Ltd and;

Rami Levi Chain Stores Ltd.

NTMA has informed me that in divesting ISIF determined that the risk profile of the particular Occupied Palestinian Territories related investments were no longer within its investment parameters and that the commercial objectives of these investments can be achieved via other investments.

ISIF’s risk management approach is multi-faceted and considers a variety of factors that impact on investment risk and reward. Given commercial sensitivities in respect of its investments, ISIF has informed me that it does not comment on individual investment decisions.

ISIF will continue to monitor its holdings to ensure that investments are within the ISIF’s risk profile and investment parameters.

Turning to the Illegal Israeli Settlements Divestment Bill 2023 the Bill requires that NTMA/ISIF is not invested, directly or indirectly, in companies listed in a UN Human Rights Database of companies operating in the Illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories produced by the Human Rights Council on 12 February 2020.

Following the expiry of the 9-month timed amendment to the Bill on 17 February last Pre-Committee Stage scrutiny has been conducted by the FINPERT committee.

I think we can all agree that Pre-Committee Stage Scrutiny has been valuable to informing our collective understanding of the policy and legal matters which the Bill raises. The Office of the Parliamentary Legal Advisor also made an invaluable contribution to that process which then helped to inform FINPERT’s report.

The Bill raises legal and policy questions regarding the use of the UN database and free movement of capital as well as wider practical implementation issues.

While FINPERT’s report supports the Bill, it recognises the challenges related to incorporating the UN Database in Irish statute and the importance of an appeal mechanism against divestment.

All of the work done during the period of the timed amendment and Pre-Committee Stage Scrutiny will help inform both mine and the Government’s position on the Bill going forward.

Finally, the Deputy will also be aware that the money message status of the Bill is currently under consideration.

Photo of Darren O'RourkeDarren O'Rourke (Meath East, Sinn Fein)
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84. To ask the Minister for Finance the impact the infrastructure, climate and nature fund will have on the general Government debt; if expenditure out of the climate and nature from 2026 onward will impact on the general Government balance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28631/24]

Photo of Rose Conway-WalshRose Conway-Walsh (Mayo, Sinn Fein)
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202. To ask the Minister for Finance if the FIF/ICNF shows up in the GGD; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28725/24]

Photo of Jack ChambersJack Chambers (Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 84 and 202 together.

The purpose of the Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund (ICNF) is to, first, provide a fiscal buffer to support State expenditure during a period of significant deterioration in the economic or fiscal position of the State, and second, to provide support to projects that directly or indirectly contribute to climate change, nature, water quality and biodiversity objectives. Under the legislation, an initial €2 billion will be transferred to the Fund from the dissolved National Reserve Fund in 2024, and €2 billion will be transferred from the Exchequer to the Fund each year from 2025 to 2030, resulting in an overall contribution of €14 billion.

This fund constitutes an accumulation of financial assets for the State. The investment strategy of the Fund will be determined by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).

The General Government Debt is a gross measure of consolidated government liabilities. The General Government Debt measures the gross level of borrowings for the general government sector. A transfer into the ICNF is simply counted as a transaction of a financial asset within General Government. When compiling the General Government Debt, transfers of financial assets within Government is not included in the calculation of the General Government Debt.

Transfers into the fund have no impact on the General Government Balance. However, if there is a drawdown from the ICNF for expenditure, this would be included in General Government expenditure and would have a negative impact on the General Government Balance.

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