The Irish taxpayer will be hit with another bill of up to €40m this year because Minister Alan Kelly has made another gaffe implementing his Irish Water policy. This time, the Minister was supposed to have signed a transfer order for assets and liabilities going into the failing Quango, but failed to do so on time. Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Sean Fleming, a member of the Public Accounts Committee, has raised the issue after three weeks of silence from the Minister’s department.
Deputy Fleming said: “The Minister responsible for Irish Water has always said that one of the main reasons for the Quango was that transferring assets ‘off balance sheet’ would ultimately save money. But not for the first time we are seeing that the theory and the reality of Irish Water are two very different things. This time, the state is actually incurring a bill of up to €40M because the assets were not transferred on time.
“At the Public Accounts Committee on February 5th last I asked the Minister’s senior officials to provide details of the liabilities under the various Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreements that have and would be transferred to Irish Water from local authorities. Surprisingly the department said they did not have the figures and three weeks later they have yet to be received by the Public Accounts Committee. I raised this exact issue with the Minister on a number of occasions throughout 2014 by way of Parliamentary Questions but the Minister said the figures were still being worked on.
“As the department doesn’t have a final figure on this, which is estimated to be in excess of €1bn, the Minister has not yet been able to sign the Transfer Order to Irish Water. As a direct result of this delay by the Minister, the taxpayer faces a bill of approximately €40m to fund these liabilities in 2015. This is just another example of the rush and failed financial fiasco that is Irish Water and I will continue to press Minister Kelly for answers.”