Saturday 25 March 2017

Government 'confident' Irish Water will pass the crucial EU market corporation test

The results of the test, which will determine the financial viability of Irish Water, are expected to be known in June.
The results of the test, which will determine the financial viability of Irish Water, are expected to be known in June.

Niall O'Connor, Political Correspondent

THE Government has insisted it is “confident” Irish Water will pass the crucial EU market corporation test despite a provisional decision by Central Statistics Office (CSO) to place the public utility on the State’s books.

The results of the test, which will determine the financial viability of Irish Water, are expected to be known in June.

The Government is hoping that Eurostat, an independent body based in Luxembourg, will report that Irish Water meets State aid rules and therefore can remain off the State’s balance sheet.

However, it’s emerged that the CSO has taken the provisional decision to list Irish Water as a public sector body. This means the body is technically classified as being on the State’s balance sheets until the Eurostat ruling.

Failure to pass the test, conducted by the Luxembourg-based agency, would threaten the Government’s pledge to slash taxes and increase spending in next year’s Budget.

However, the CSO says its classification is “preliminary and provisional” and that it was agreed with Eurostat in November.

Two separate government sources tonight said they are confident the test will be passed.

“The CSO states on a number of occasions that this decision was preliminary and provisional and that it was agreed with Eurostat,” one source told independent.ie.

A recent report by the European Commission voiced concern about whether the public utility can fund itself into the future.

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