Only €30.5m out of an expected €66.8m, or 46% of money due was collected in Irish Water’s first billing period. Just 43% of the expected customer base of 1.5m have paid. Commenting on the latest revelation Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Environment and Local Government Barry Cowen TD stated that the figures represented yet another nail in the coffin of Irish Water’s credibility.
Deputy Cowen commented, “If this payment rate continues Irish Water will gain annual revenue of €120m in domestic water charges. The Government is budgeted to pay out €130m in the Water Conservation grant and €25m is due in interest repayments on water meter loans this September. On this basis the Government will actually end up losing €35m because of water charges. The credibility of the Government’s water charges system and the Irish Water super quango is entirely shot through.
“The financial black hole the Government set up is becoming all too clear. €540m on water meters will be essentially wasted for at least another five years. €80m was spent on consultants as part of €172m in setting up Irish Water. €45m is spent on operating Irish Water every year. Altogether on current payment rates Irish Water will leave the tax payer a stunning total of €785m worse off this year than if it had never been set up.”
Deputy Cowen also commented on the implications of the latest revelation for the make or break Eurostat test.
“In order to meet the Eurostat Market Corporation test Irish Water will have to raise at least 50% of its revenue from non-Government sources. Its anticipated gross revenue from domestic water charges will be around €271m with a further €230m from non-domestic sources. The final decision on whether Irish Water would fall on the Government’s balance sheets has been continually delayed by Eurostat. The original decision was anticipated by March and is now not due until September. The latest financial revenue results will impact whether it can remain off balance sheet in the long term even if the Eurostat decision in the next few months goes the Government’s way.
“Not an extra cent is being spent on water infrastructure above the €550m per annum Fianna Fáil spent in Government. The collapse in revenue will only heighten that. This begs the question as to why Irish Water was set up in the first place. It is time to put the quango out of its misery.” concluded Deputy Cowen.