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New calls to scrap Irish Water

water charges

Ministers were told yesterday by Eurostat, the EU statistical service, that Irish Water could cost us about €2.3 billion euro. David Duffy from ESRI said yesterday ‘for the taxpayer, this means that there is an extra €2.5 billion that will now have to be funded by the government. ‘‘Prior to this it could have been expected to remain off the general government balance.’ ‘It either means you have a bigger deficit, or in other words, a smaller surplus, in budgetary terms.’

Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen said ‘The game is up for Irish water.” He has asked the Government to ‘abandon this project.’ This sorry saga needs to come to an end.’ It is estimated that the Government’s medium-term fiscal plan may cost €2.68 billion from 2014 until 2020. Kieran McQuinn Associate Research Professor with the Think Tank said ‘the bottom line is now that this is a cost that the government will have to deal with, that they were hoping they would not have to deal with.’ ‘That money will be put aside for Irish Water, and this money could have been diverted elsewhere.’ ‘It could have been used to pay down Government debt, for example,’ ‘It means that €600 million can’t be used elsewhere. It could have been diverted into health and education budgets’.

Eurostat stated that the majority of people were not paying reasonable prices for their water and that is because Ministers and not Irish Water had implemented the pricing systems. Eurostat added that when the Government were forced to cap water charges in 2014, 70 percent of customers were paying below what they should have been paying. The Environment Minister Alan Kelly said ‘Once Irish Water is bedded down in this country, and I don’t think there is an alternative, in fact I know there isn’t an alternative. I believe this will be off balance sheet but in the short terms this decision doesn’t have any impact from a budgetary impact whatsoever’.

Independent economist and former Chief Economist with Bank of Ireland, Dan McLaughlin said ‘We’ve created an additional administrative cost.’ TD Stephen Donnelly of the Social Democrats said ‘there is no single reason to continue charging for water, it is madness.’ There have been questions asked regarding the cost to the taxpayer in relation to launching Irish Water. According to Oireachtas reports, Irish Water will have cost the State €1.5 billion by the end of next year. It continued by saying that €180 million was used to produce Irish Water.

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