Hogan admits water charges law will be behind Troika schedule
PHIL HOGAN has conceded that the introduction of the laws behind the introduction of metered water charges will be enacted behind the timetable agreed with the Troika.
The environment minister yesterday said the legislation to set up Irish Water, the body which will be responsible for the collection of the charge, would be presented before the end of the year.
His comments in the Dáil came just hours after a European Commssion review of Ireland’s bailout, however, confirmed that a detailed timetable provided by Hogan’s own Department of the Environment said the legislation would be enacted before the end of the third quarter of 2012.
If that timetable – presented by the visiting EU-IMF inspection team during the last quarterly review in July – was to be honoured, the legislation would need to be passed through both Houses of the Oireachtas before the end of next week.
Yesterday’s Commission report said the charges would be in place by January 1, 2014 – significantly earlier than the indications given by Phil Hogan five months ago, when he advised householders that the first bills for water charges would not be due until late 2014.
Fianna Fáil’s environment spokesman Barry Cowen said the timetable for introducing water charges had been dramatically changed, and said the changes meant Bord Gais – of which Irish Water will be an independent subsidiary – was hiring engineers and staff to implement the charges without knowing the charges would be levied.
“You now have moved back from the initial commitment to have this done in a quicker timeframe,” Cowen said, before accusing Hogan of undoing the work of some local authorities which had independently already begun installing water meters in housing estates.
Those councils were being penalised by Hogan for the failure of local residents to pay the household charge, even though they had already sought to prepare themselves for a possible household charge, Cowen charged.