Kenny: Pay water charges - or be cut off18/04/2012 - 14:03:48
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has warned that people will be cut off it they fail to pay water charges.
Amid continued speculation that households may face a hefty bill for new meters, Mr Kenny refused to give details of potential costs when the new charge is introduced in 2014.
“These are all matters for discussion about how the system is actually going to work,” said Mr Kenny.
“If you don’t pay your electricity bill, if you don’t pay your water bill, it’s cut off.”
Environment Minister Phil Hogan confirmed yesterday an annual charge would come into effect in 2014, which will go towards repaying the €450m loan the Government will take from the National Pension Reserve Fund to pay for water meter installations by the new utility Irish Water.
The Taoiseach pointed out that while water is “fundamental for life”, the Government is not in a position to give people a free allowance.
“Clearly the system here is for everybody to understand that we cannot go on the way we have been going on,” Mr Kenny said.
“We cannot continue to have 40% of water leaking through the system.”
The Taoiseach also refused to give details on potential costs – for both water charges and the planned standing charge. He said the details have yet to be ironed out by the new water regulator.
It has been widely reported that householders could face a standing charge of €39 per annum over 20 years - totalling around €800 for meters to measure water usage.
“I can’t tell you what the cost of electricity will be in five years,” the Taoiseach said.
“It’s a difficult question to say what the charge for water is when the detail has not been worked out. It will be the responsibility of the water regulator.”
Mr Kenny repeated the Environment Minister’s assurances that no upfront payment will be required of householders for the meters. He insisted nothing would be paid for before the official rollout of the charges.
Meanwhile, Mr Hogan confirmed yesterday that public utility Irish Water would be established immediately as part of Bord Gais to oversee the roll-out of the water metering programme.
There have also been commitments that the company will not be privatised regardless of plans for a sale of State assets.
It costs around €1.2bn to supply all of Ireland’s homes with clean water. About 40% of supplies are thought to be lost through leaks
Ireland is the only country in the European Union and of the OECD states that does not charge for the resource.
Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald said it was astonishing that the Taoiseach would not rule out the prospect of cutting off water supply to homes.
"Water is essential for a decent standard or quality of living," Deputy McDonald said.
"The Taoiseach has failed to indicate in any substantive way for the citizens of the state what level of charge they will face."
Meanwhile Fianna Fáil Environment Spokesperson Niall Collins has asked Minister Hogan to clarify whether households will be given the option of getting approved water meters installed themselves, instead of paying what he described as the "exorbitant" fee of €800 over 20 years.
Deputy Collins also requested clarification on whether newer homes that already have water meters fitted as standard will also be subject to the €40 annual charge.
“Fine Gael and Labour are applauding themselves for not introducing an upfront charge of around €300 for water meter installation," Deputy Collins said.
"Instead, households will have to pay €40 a year over 20 years for their meters – that’s before they pay a cent for their water use.
"How can the Government suggest that meter bill of nearly €800 is an improvement on the original figure of €300?"
"Families across the country who are already to the pin of their collar are now extremely worried about how they will cope with water bills on top of everything else," he added.
"The notion of asking them to pay an exorbitant €800 for water meters so that they can be charged for their water use is ridiculous."
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