The purpose of the Home Building Finance Ireland Act 2018 is to provide for the establishment of a company called Home Building Finance Ireland (HBFI) to increase the availability of debt funding for residential development in the State. HBFI will provide financing to developers seeking to build viable residential development projects in Ireland on commercial, market equivalent terms and conditions.
The Act facilitates funding of HBFI from resources currently held by the Irish Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), the granting of the necessary power to the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) to provide staff and services to HBFI on a cost recoverable basis, the granting of specific powers to HBFI to enable it to carry on the business of residential development finance, and ensures appropriate accountability for HBFI.
HBFI may promote, form or acquire a shareholding in various types of subsidiaries such as companies or joint ventures, etc.
The main function of HBFI is to lend money on commercial terms for the purpose of funding residential development in the State. In carrying out its functions HBFI shall take into account all of the risk factors relevant to such lending, aim to contribute to the economic and social development of the State and aim to enhance to competitiveness of the economy of the State.HBFI shall have ancillary powers necessary for the performance of its functions.
HBFI has a board of between three and seven directors including a chairperson. The chairperson and directors will be appointed by the Minister and that the terms and conditions of appointment will be set out in the constitution of HBFI.
NTMA will provide HBFI with the services, systems and staff it requires, after consultation with the Chief Executive of the NTMA.Where staff and services have already been provided by the NTMA to NAMA that meet HBFI’s requirements, the NTMA shall, subject to the approval of the Chief Executive and board of NAMA, reassign such staff and services from NAMA to HBFI where appropriate.
Furthermore, in circumstances where the NTMA is not in a position to provide services to HBFI, then HBFI shall be able to procure such services itself, or the NTMA shall procure such on behalf of HBFI.
Shares of HBFI with a total nominal value of €20,000,000 are allotted and issued to the Minster upon incorporation. Provision is also included for HBFI to allot and issue more shares to the Minister from time to time. The division of shares into different classes by HBFI is subject to the consent of the Minister.
The Minister may sell, transfer, exchange, redeem or dispose of shares in HBFI on such terms and conditions as he deems appropriate. The sale, transfer, exchange or disposal of shares is specifically limited to the NTMA, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government or a body under the aegis of the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government.
Any funds received from the sale, transfer, exchange, surrender, redemption or disposal of any share will go to the exchequer and that the Minister has the power to exercise all rights and powers associated with the shares. HBFI will pay a dividend of the amount decided by the board of HBFI in consultation with the Minister. Any dividend received from the shares will go to the exchequer.
HBFI may borrow money in any currency through any type of debt it thinks fit and on such terms as it thinks fit. The 2018 Act limits the amount that HBFI can be liable to repay at any given time to €750,000,000. HBFI is responsible for the repayment of its borrowings.
The value of borrowings in other currencies will be valued using the European Central Bank’s published exchange rates. Money loaned to HBFI under the National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Act 2014 will not be taken into account for the purposes of calculating the €750,000,000 borrowing limit.
A senior HBFI officer or member of the board nominated by the HBFI chairperson will give evidence to the Committee of Public Accounts on the matters specified in this section whenever required.
The income and gains arising to HBFI or a wholly owned subsidiary of HBFI will be exempt from interest withholding tax. The Minister may direct the NTMA (ISIF) to provide funding to HBFI on certain terms. The total value of this funding is not to exceed €750,000,000 at any one time.
The Minister has the power to issue directions to HBFI where these directions are consistent with the functions of HBFI. Directions given by the Minister must be published in Iris Oifigiúil and laid before each House of the Oireachtas.
The Minister may at any time require HBFI to report to the Minister regarding the progress and achievement of HBFI’s purposes. As soon as possible after 31 December 2020, and subsequently every two years, the Minister will assess the extent to which HBFI has made progress toward achieving its overall objectives, the impact HBFI is having in the residential development funding market, and the amount of funding available in the market. As part of this assessment the Minster shall decide whether HBFI should continue in operation.
Subject to certain exceptions, a person who communicates with, amongst others, HBFI and a HBFI group entity, with the intention of influencing the making of a decision in relation to the performance of the functions of HBFI or the HBFI group entity, commits an offence.
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