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Molloy - Scrapping elections must not lead to water charge imposition

4 May, 2003

Sinn Féin's Francie Molloy, former Chairperson of the Assembly Finance and Personnel Committee, has said that the British governments scrapping of the May 29th Assembly election must not lead to the imposition of Water Charges.

Mr Molloy said:

"There are a number of important financial and economic decisions that are due to be taken in the next couple of months, not least decisions on the imposition of Water Charges.

"The British Treasury is determined to see water charges imposed here, despite widespread local opposition and the reality that people already pay for the their water supply through their rates. Sinn Féin is totally opposed to the imposition of Water Charges.

"With local accountability and control of local decision making now thrown i nto disarray by the undemocratic decision of the British government to scrap the May 29th Assembly election there is the reality that these decisions now rest in the hands of direct rule ministers.

"The truth is that British direct rule ministers are acting as if the imposition of Water Charges is a certainty. Despite the corner we were backed into by a succession of weak local finance ministers, the Assembly did not agree to Water Charges.

"Other key decisions that need to be taken include how we tackle the massive problems created by spiralling insurance costs, the issue of industrial de-rating and the two interlinked issues around rates increases, water charges and borrowing under the Rates and Reinvestment Initiative.

"Our public services urgently need investment and our economy needs support. That money needs to come from somewhere but we must take a stand against the creeping imposition of back-door taxes - the so-called Durkan taxes. Taxation must be fair and transparent, we need to challenge the unfair Barnett formula by which the British Exchequer decides the level funding available to the North." ENDS

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