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Hyland - Water Charges will adversely impact on low-income families

23 June, 2003

Direct rule Minister Angela Smith has made it clear she is prepared to impose water charges on the people of the six counties - a decision that is opposed by the vast majority of people living here. Sinn Féin Councillor Davy Hyland said;

"Direct rule Minister Angela Smith has indicated she will introduce the imposition of Water Charges on households in the six counties in the very near future. This decision will adversely impact on low-income families who will be faced with a further estimated £400 annual bill. The vast majority of political parties and the local population have clearly stated their opposition to this new form of taxation. We already pay for water in our domestic rates bill and this new charge will amount to double taxation on people.

"It is clear that the final outcome of this thinking will be the complete privatisation of Water Services. Unfortunately this has been given impetus by the wider privatisation agenda implemented by Mark Durkan in his flawed Reform and Reinvestment Initiative, which was eagerly seized upon by the British Exchequer. The SDLP have once again failed to resist the British Treasury which is determined to impose water charges despite the strong local opposition voiced by Trades Unions, community groups and most political parties.

"It is estimated that as much as 250 million litres of water per day is lost through leakage throughout the system. We must certainly implement an extensive overall programme of repair and maintenance but this should not be done at the expense of the taxpayer who cannot hold the Minister to local accountability.

"Sinn Féin is totally opposed to the imposition of Water Charges and the privatisation agenda of the British Labour Party that has been facilitated by a succession of weak SDLP finance Ministers who were intent on promoting the RRI deal through the Assembly."ENDS

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