Adams: Water meter charges 'another stealth tax'17/04/2012 - 13:02:23
Government proposals to stagger water meter payments have been shot down amid further criticism of the charges.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams rejected the idea that making small annual payments to cover the cost of installing meters would be less burdensome on householders than forcing them to fork out a lump sum.
It has been estimated to cost on average €39 per annum over 20 years.
The Co Louth TD accused the Fine Gael-Labour coalition of imposing yet another unfair stealth tax, as well as being ideologically committed to privatisation.
“The fact is, people pay taxes,” said Mr Adams.
“Straws break camels’ backs. We know that people can’t afford the septic tank charge, can’t afford the household charge, can’t afford VAT increases, and they can’t afford the hike in public transport.
“This is just another bad action by what I believe is an increasingly bad Government.”
Earlier, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said payment details still had to be worked out.
On his way into the weekly Cabinet meeting, where he will discuss water charges with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and other ministers, he said no one likes a new tax.
“Any new charge that is introduced is something that people will always find difficult,” he said.
“But details of that charging arrangement – how it is going to operate, the amount that’s going to be involved, the arrangements that will be in place to ensure that it is fair – all of that has yet to be worked out.”
The water tax will come into effect in 2014, as agreed by the Government under the terms of its EU, IMF and European Central Bank bailout deal.
But it is estimated around a million homes have to be fitted with meters to measure water usage and critics have warned there is not enough time to install them all by the end of next year.
It emerged over the weekend that householders will have to pay for the water meters themselves, which are priced around €300 to €350.
The Government later insisted it would cover the installation cost by taking a loan from the National Pension Reserve Fund and the Taoiseach made assurances that any burden on the public would not be up front.
“Obviously when you provide water meters somebody has to pay for them,” Mr Kenny said yesterday.
“We’ve made absolutely no decision about this. Any charge will be the absolute minimum because of the difficulties that are involved here.”
The Taoiseach confirmed the Government would set up an independent water agency, which would deal with fixing water leaks and delivering safe water at as low a cost as possible to householders.
He also claimed that up to 2,000 jobs could be created for the water meter installation process that will take place across the country over the next year.
A number of semi-state companies are keen to tender for the contracts.
A group of left-wing TDs yesterday warned that the Government could face a mass revolt over the impending water tax and related charges, similar to that of the controversial household charge.
Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins said a campaign is mounting and that it is likely to intensify, insisting the austerity measure will lead to further economic problems.
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