Sunday 4 December 2016

Setting up a utility the right way

Stephen Donnelly has eight salient points future administrations should heed to avoid Irish Water-type fiascos

Stephen Donnelly

Published 05/04/2015 | 02:30

'A proposal to merge the 34 water authorities should have been developed by then minister Phil Hogan.' Photo: Frank Mc Grath
'A proposal to merge the 34 water authorities should have been developed by then minister Phil Hogan.' Photo: Frank Mc Grath

There's a lot to be learned from the Irish Water saga. Here are a few things that future governments might take away.

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1. Do the math - first. To date, it still hasn't been possible to get a detailed financial plan for the establishment of Irish Water. Over the course of the past 18 months, the numbers have moved around, frequently - capital investment levels, cost savings, off-balance sheet requirements, household charges, and so on. You wouldn't be given a loan to open a sweet shop with the lack of financial information available on Irish Water.

When establishing a multi-billion-euro public utility company, create a detailed financial plan, and then move to point 2.

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