Digital Desk Staff
Controversial water charges must be reintroduced if we are to meet our climate targets, global economic think-tank the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has warned.
As the Irish Examiner reports, the Government has been told to reconsider domestic water charges as accelerated investment is needed to extend and upgrade the country’s water supply and sanitation infrastructure for a growing population and to reduce water loss.
Oppositions parties have reacted with fury to the suggestion that water levies, which were scrapped after a massive public backlash, should be reimposed.
Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin said the OECD report highlights the inadequacies in this State’s water infrastructure, but warned the Government not to revisit the introduction of domestic water charges.
"A cross-party Oireachtas committee report assessed the funding model for water services and recommended that normal household usage should be paid for by the State in the form of general taxation," he said.
“The so-called ‘excessive use’ charge was adopted as a political fudge between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and would, in reality, cost more to administer than it would have brought in.
“Reigniting the domestic charge debate is a distraction and deflects from the failure of government to prioritise public spending in water infrastructure,” said Mr Ó Broin.
Solidarity-PBP TD Paul Murphy said any attempt to bring water charges back in would be met with mass opposition.
“Fine Gael and Labour wasted hundreds of millions installing water meters - that was money which should have been invested in fixing our pipes and upgrading the water infrastructure.
“Rather than imposing more regressive austerity taxes, we should be taxing the super-rich to invest in a proper upgrading of our water network,” he said.
The OECD said Ireland stands out, on the international stage, by not charging households for water usage and services. Ireland’s current model of the State financing the water sector “may not be able to keep up with the scale of required investment,” the organisation said.
The body has recommended that the Government “assess whether the funding model for water services is sufficient to cover the high investment costs and whether household water charges would be an appropriate financing source has ruled out reintroducing water charges.
Speaking to Newstalk this morning, Environment Minister, Eamon Ryan, says water charges will not be happening again.
“I was not surprised that is what the OECD said, that is their position. The political system though came to an appropriate conclusion around it, so we will stick to that,"