See Search Box
lower down this column for searches of Finfacts news pages. Where there may be
the odd special character missing from an older page, it's a problem that
developed when Interactive Tools upgraded to a new content management system.
Finfacts is Ireland's leading business information site and
you are in its business news section.
The Irish Independent reports
that as many as 200,000 women are facing motor insurance increases of up to
€300-a-year, the Irish Independent has learned.
Insurers have already started to push up premiums
for females ahead of new rules banning gender discrimination due to take effect
in December. Increases of between 10pc and 45pc are being
imposed on women drivers between the ages of 17 and 30, with lower rises for
The trends emerged in data compiled from 16
insurers by brokers AonInsure.ie.
There are around 200,000 women with a full
driving licence who are under the age of 30.
Women have traditionally paid much less for
insurance than men because they are less risky drivers.
But from December an EU ruling will not allow
insurers to charge different rates to men and women.
However, insurers have already started to
increase premiums ahead of the new ruling taking effect.
They are raising the premiums for women, but they
are not lowering men's insurance costs. This is because men are involved in a
far greater number of serious and expensive accidents.
Last night the Consumers' Association accused
insurers of profiteering.
Michael Kilcoyne of the consumer body said:
"Insurers are profiteering here. They have a captive market because by law we
all have to have car insurance."
He said the moves by insurers to push up premiums
for women went against the spirit of the EU gender directive, which was supposed
to ban discrimination on grounds of sex.
Instead, women were being punished, the
Consumers' Association said.
Declan Cahill of AonInsure.ie, which produces an
index of insurance costs, said younger female drivers were being hit hard by the
He said insurers were adjusting their pricing
each month so that they do not end up with one sudden rise in rates in December.
By the end of the year women under the age of 30
will end up having to pay between €200 and €300 a year more for car cover.
"We are seeing evidence that insurers are already
changing their pricing month-on-month instead of in one fell swoop later in the
year," Mr Cahill said.
He explained that a 21-year-old women who lives
in Cork and drives a Peugeot 206 had been quoted €1,000 for insurance. A man of
the same age and with the same car quoted €1,900 up to recently.
Now insurers are gradually moving to a situation
where the man and the women are both being quoted €1,900 -- this is a whopping
Some insurers were decreasing the rates for men,
but most were leaving men's premiums alone while hugely increasing women's
Female drivers in Ireland, Britain and Italy were
all seeing hikes in premiums, as these countries have the biggest gap in
premiums between men and women. Mr Cahill attributed this to "hot-blooded male
driving" in these countries.
The move to unisex insurance pricing comes at a
time of a host of rises in the cost of running a car.
Motorists will be forced to pay an extra 10c in
tolls from January, while all year there have been rises in the cost of petrol
and diesel, and motorists have been hit with higher car tax, VAT and carbon
A ruling last year by the EU Court of Justice
forced the EU to issue a directive banning gender discrimination for insurance.
The Irish Insurance Federation (IIF) admitted
yesterday that insurance costs for men and women were converging, but denied
there was any profiteering.
Michael Horan of the IIF said: "Insurance
companies are not trying to profiteer. We did not want the EU gender ruling, but
we have to adapt to what the directive says."
He said the market was highly competitive, and
added that recent figures showed the average premium was €584. This was half of
what was charged in Britain.
The Irish Independent also
reports that the Government is warning young couples tempted to buy a house to
act now -- or lose out on a €5,000-a-year "offer of a lifetime".
In last year's Budget, Finance Minister Michael
Noonan announced a mortgage interest relief deal worth as much as €5,000 a year
for first-time buyer couples.
However, the deal finishes at the end of this
year, and a mortgage must be drawn down by December 31 for people to avail of
In an interview with the Irish Independent,
junior finance minister Brian Hayes said the deal would not be extended in
December's Budget, and buyers must act before the "train will have left the
"This is an offer of a lifetime, it won't come
again," said Mr Hayes. "All our futures are based on getting the property market
going again. People need to act fast to avail of it."
There have been calls to extend the scheme as the
property market stabilises, but this is being firmly ruled out. The offer made
little difference in the first half of the year, with only 2,858 properties sold
to first-time buyers -- almost the exact same amount as the same period last
However, there may be an end-of-year spike, as
those who were waiting for prices to drop are forced to move or lose out on the
deal. But anyone tempted to buy only has weeks to go through the mortgage
process, get approval and buy a house.
First-time buyers will get up to €5,000 a year
for six years in mortgage interest relief if they buy this year and Mr Noonan
said his scheme was aimed at breaking the "rainy-day" mentality among the
Mr Hayes said there was evidence of increased
mortgage transactions in recent months, and urged people who may already have
mortgage approval to "transact" their mortgages in the coming months to avail of
"If they don't get on it now, the train will have
left the station and it will be too late to act," the Dublin South West TD said.
"People should be aware that it's coming to an end, and they should buy if they
Mr Hayes also said the banks had a role to play
in ensuring that as many people as possible get their mortgages before the
deadline is up.
Mr Noonan's proposals were designed at breathing
some life into the property market, targeting those who were holding off buying
Mortgage interest relief will not be available
for anyone who buys a house from next year, and it will be fully abolished by
2018. But for those buying their first property this year, Mr Noonan increased
the amount from 15pc to 25pc.
The offer applies not just to the purchase of a
house, but the "repair, development or improvement of a claimant's principal
"Even when they have a very good family income, I
think the psychological effect is to save rather than invest," Mr Noonan when he
unveiled the offer.
"Everybody has a rainy day mentality and I'm
trying to break that."
Replying to Fianna Fail's Michael McGrath in the
Dail recently, Mr Noonan also said the relief was "not confined to first-time
People who already own a property can also avail
of a 15pc rate, up from 10pc, until the end of the year.
The Irish Times reports that
serious misgivings have emerged about the scale of savings being achieved under
the Croke Park agreement in advance of the latest EU-IMF-ECB troika visit to
assess progress under the bailout.
It is understood that experts from the European
Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank are becoming
increasingly frustrated with how the Coalition is implementing the bailout by
cutting services to the public rather than tackling vested interests in the
public service and professions.
While the troika is satisfied that overall targets for deficit reduction are
being met, there is concern at the way they are being achieved, according to
sources involved in the process. It is also understood that there is concern
about the budget overruns in health.
Signs of growing discontent have also emerged on the Fine Gael backbenches, with
several TDs becoming increasing critical of the Government’s approach to making
savings in the public service pay bill.
Confirmation by chairman of the implementation body PJ Fitzpatrick to the Public
Accounts Committee (PAC) that increments and allowances are not part of the
Croke Park deal has aggravated Fine Gael TDs.
The disclosure that departments are calculating savings made through early
retirement by adding 80 per cent to salary savings on the basis of non-pay
economies has also created problems.
One department, Agriculture, did not claim savings in line with the norm applied
by other departments on the basis that they were “excessive, relative to actual
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney confirmed yesterday that his department
did not claim these extra savings, saying it was “simply being accurate” by not
adding massive non-pay savings. He said that while the standard calculation
method for estimating savings for departing public servants involved adding a
substantial non-pay element, that system had not been applied in Agriculture
because those savings did not apply immediately.
“I’m not in the business of giving inaccurate figures to the Department of
Public Expenditure [and Reform] and that is why my department is being run in a
business-like manner and we give actual savings as they are made.”
In a report to the PAC last week Mr Fitzpatrick said that over the first two
years of the Croke Park agreement savings of €810 million had been made in the
pay bill, along with €678 million in non-pay savings.
Several TDs voiced concern at the PAC as to the validity of calculation about
the non-pay savings.
One, Fine Gael Dublin South East TD Eoghan Murphy, queried the methodology used
to calculate the savings and said it called the entire deal into question.
Mr Murphy also pointed to the admission at the PAC that allowances and
increments were not covered by the agreement and suggested that a more critical
analysis was needed at the way it was operating.
In a statement issued last night, the Government denied that pay bill savings
set out in the implementation body report are overstated. It said pay savings
from numbers reductions are based on the average pay of employees.
"Estimates of non-pay savings are calculated by departments and are not related
to pay. Savings figures are not over-estimated and are an accurate reflection of
the savings made," the statement, issued by the Department of Public Expenditure
and Reform, said.
The Government also denied that a circular was issued to departments instructing
them to calculate non-pay savings by using a factor of 40 per cent of pay
"Departments used their own methodologies."
Last night Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore defended the
Croke Park agreement and the savings made under it. He insisted that “the sums
He also dismissed reports that the Government wanted to extend the deadline of
2015 for reducing the exchequer deficit to 3 per cent of gross domestic product.
He said that the people of this State wanted to see when and where the end was
and they needed to get it over with.
Mr Gilmore told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics that there would be no second
bailout. And he predicted that the Republic would be out of the troika programme
by the end of 2013.
He was also confident the Republic would get “a very good deal” on the banking
debt and said discussions were continuing with the ECB and other EU governments.
However, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions David Begg
questioned the feasibility of reducing the deficit to 3 per cent by 2015 and
said that a later date was now necessary. Mr Begg said the absence of growth
meant that the target could not be reached by the deadline, which he suggested
should be extended until 2017.
He was highly critical of the troika, describing its members as “neo-liberal
zealots”. He said that he would expect to see them “sitting in sackcloth and
ashes” asking for repentance for what they had done to this country.
The Irish Times also reports
that the IMF’S representative in Dublin, Peter Breuer, has said it is important
the commitments made by EU leaders regarding bank debt at the June summit are
Welcoming Ireland’s return to the bond markets
earlier this year, Mr Breuer noted most of Ireland’s recent debt issuances
occurred after the euro leaders’ summit.
“Much of this market access came shortly after
this June 29th announcement by the heads of state, so it’s important then that
the commitments that were made then are actually implemented so that market
access will in fact manifest itself on a regular and sustainable basis,” he told
delegates at the annual Dublin Economics Workshop in Galway.
EU leaders pledged at the June 29th summit to
review the Irish bank bailout, but a German-Dutch-Finnish statement two weeks
ago cast doubt over the scope of any intervention.
Separately, European Central Bank executive board
member, Joerg Asmussen said on Saturday that Ireland and Portugal were not yet
eligible for the European Central Bank’s new bond-buying programme, known as
Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT). Pointing out that countries can only
qualify when they regain full bond market access, Mr Asmussen said recent moves
by Portugal were “not sufficient to qualify for the OMT – it is not full market
Though Ireland continues to be funded by the
IMF-EU programme, the NTMA began to re-enter the bond market this year, issuing
T-Bills in July and more long-term amortising bonds in August.
In a speech on the euro zone economy delivered at
the workshop, Mr Breuer said that, despite major policy actions, financial
markets in parts of the euro area remained under stress, with unemployment a
major issue across most euro zone countries.
He noted an increasing divergence between
peripheral and core countries in terms of interest rates, with higher interest
rates in place in the so-called peripheral countries at a time when lower rates
“are needed most”.
He said that a European banking union, which
would involve common deposit insurance, a common bank resolution system and
common supervision, was “the first priority” for Europe, noting that stress in
the banking system was a bigger issue in Europe than in the US, because
financial intermediation in Europe was more dependent on banks, and there was a
much stronger relationship between GDP growth and private sector credit growth
Pointing out that the absence of a bank
resolution process and an insistence on paying unsecured bank creditors had
exacerbated the financial crisis, economist Colm McCarthy said the
implementation of a bank resolution process was essential. Using data from the
IMF, Mr McCarthy said the fiscal cost of a banking crisis for countries could
sometimes be 50 per cent of GDP.
“The quickest way to go bust in a currency union
is to embrace unknown bank – in other words foreign currency – liabilities,” he
said, noting the Irish bailout could be one of the most costly ever.
Earlier, Prof Joe Durkan of the ESRI criticised
what he described as a lack of leadership at the heart of the euro zone. In a
paper that compared the approach adopted by the ECB to the financial crisis to
that pursued in the US and the UK, he said Europe appeared to be floundering.
“There is no dominant economist at the helm,” he
said, pointing out that the ECB’s decisions on issues such as interest rates
suggested a sense of “confusion about what they should be doing”.
Ciarán O’Hagan of Société Générale said that
while there had been calls for aggressive bond-buying by the ECB, any programme
of official bond-buying would necessarily result in smaller holdings of
Government bonds by bona fide investors.
As long as prices were held well above what were
seen as market clearing, investors would sell, he said. “Shouldn’t crisis
resolution mean a re-engagement with buyers of bonds . . . rather than getting
them to sell?” he asked.
As regards the forthcoming OMT, he said the ECB
should quantify how much it was going to purchase and over what time-frame.
The Irish Examiner reports
that it is believed that one of the firms advising the Government on the sale of
the state-owned Irish Life favours an initial public offering (IPO) in roughly
12 months’ time, according to a source familiar with the situation.
However, a trade sale is still the Department of
Finance’s preferred option to offload the company with the sale most likely
taking place in early 2014, according to another source.
The Government is in preliminary talks with a number of advisers about the
future of Irish Life. It is expected that Deutsche Bank will be appointed lead
adviser when the official sales process begins.
At the Irish Life results presentation last month, CEO Kevin Murphy said it
would take six months of calm market conditions across the eurozone before the
official divestment process begins.
The Government forked out €1.3bn to take Irish Life into the state fold. Irish
Life was separated from Permanent TSB earlier this year.
The sale of Irish Life to the Canadian Great West Life insurance company
collapsed at the eleventh hour in Nov 2011 amid concerns about the escalating
eurozone crisis. The eurozone has since stabilised, although the future
prospects for the region hinge on a series of forthcoming summits that will
discuss plans for a banking and fiscal union.
Last week, Royal Bank of Scotland successfully sold its insurance arm, Direct
Line, through an IPO with strong investor demand raising £790m (€980m) for the
beleaguered state-controlled bank. It was the largest IPO on the London market
over the past 17 months.
One of the advisers talking to the Government is taking the view that an IPO
would generate more funds than a trade sale.
However, a trade sale remains the Government’s favoured option because it is
much less risky than an IPO. It is believed that the Government would like to
get three to four bidders "into an auction room" to ensure the best price is
achieved, according to a source.
The Department of Finance and Irish Life both declined to comment.
Irish Life CEO Mr Murphy, is standing down at the end of the year. The selection
process is under way for his replacement.
About four or five internal and external candidates are being interviewed for
the position, but an announcement is unlikely before December, a source said.
Foreign news reviews and more
comprehensive coverage of Irish news is available in our Daily News Digest in
Global category on Finfacts Premium.
out our subscription service, Finfacts Premium
, at a low annual charge of €25 - - if
you are a regular user of Finfacts, 50 euro cent a week is hardly a huge ask to
support the service.