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IMF/EU water charges - A highly regressive tax - Ó Snodaigh

2 December, 2010 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD


“The EU/IMF deal has overtaken the government’s own four year plan with regard to the timeframe for water charges. This confirms my belief that plans to introduce water charges were never about the environment or water conservation, rather, it is a further example of the toxic influence of big business and the wealthy on Irish social policy. The charges will function as a highly regressive tax that ordinary householders cannot afford. And with the IMF at the helm, water services will ultimately be privatised.

“Just as we are seeing thousands of homes disconnected from their electricity and gas each month, we will soon be seeing families disconnected from water. The government had claimed that the system would only target water wasters because the model would involve a free allocation. However it is my understanding that a free allocation of water plus charges for additional use is not allowed under the EU Water Framework. According to the EU rules if charging directly for water Ireland must charge householders for their entire water use. Due to the nature of the exemption form the Directive originally secured by Ireland it’s a case of charge for all or nothing.

“Householders already pay for their water through central taxation. The vast majority of water is wasted not by householders but by our antiquated water distribution system long before it reaches peoples homes.

"It is outrageous to even talk about charging householders a second time for their water when the Department of the Environment has failed to spend its existing budget for water services. Minister Gormley confirmed, in response to a parliamentary question I put to him, that by the end of October this year the department had spent just €316 million of its €508 million annual budget. The €200 million should be used to fix the leaks in the system, in a very short time such an investment would more than pay for itself.” ENDS

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