Govt running scared on water charges


Noonan confirms water tax will be delayed until 2014

FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan has said that water charges probably won’t be introduced until the end of 2014 or into 2015.

Householders are set for a reprieve of at least a year on the payment of water charges as the Government looks to postpone the current policy plan to begin charging at the beginning of next year.

Mr Noonan indicated that a decision on the starting date for water charges will be taken this summer.

And the Coalition also has to clear the delay with the EU-IMF bailout team.

Ministers are concerned about a possible backlash from the public about the new tax coming so soon after the introduction of the controversial property tax.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Junior Finance Minister Brian Hayes indicated that the introduction of the charges would be postponed.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan last week said water charges would be brought in next January.

Yesterday, Mr Hogan said that Mr Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin “obviously at the end of every quarter . . . discuss the timing” for the new charges.

But he said that Cabinet ministers would “be delighted” if they could get a solution to put back the introduction water charges.

Speaking at Dell’s plant in Limerick, Mr Noonan said that discussions with the bailout team and the pace of rolling out the metering system would determine when people were charged for water usage.


“We thought that water charges would come in from January 1, 2014, but the progress of the roll-out of the metering is a little slower than anticipated.

“We will not be introducing water charges from January 1, 2014, but Brendan Howlin and myself will have to discuss with the troika what the date of introduction will be,” he said.

“Whether that date will be at the back end of 2014 or whether it would extend into 2015 we are not quite sure yet. It depends first of all on the attitude of the troika, but also on the pace of the roll-out of the metering by the new water board,” he added.

Mr Noonan said discussions with the troika had yet to conclude on the question of a temporary flat rate water charge while meters are installed.

“We are still involved in negotiating the detail. I am not too sure what the troika will bring to the table by way of proposals on their side.

“On the water charges issue, part of the bailout programme negotiated between the Fianna Fail-Green government and the troika involved the introduction of water charges. The present Government agrees there should be water charges because water is a very scarce resource internationally and in Ireland. The best way of controlling its usage is by charging so there will be water charges.”


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