Sunday 25 March 2018

Irish Water remains on Government books as potential debt pending EU verdict on its status

The Irish Water registration packs
The Irish Water registration packs
John Downing

John Downing

IRISH Water remains on the government books as a potential debt until the EU delivers a verdict on its status.

Senior government figures - including Taoiseach Enda Kenny - have insisted that they will be able to treat the controversial public utility as a semi-state company.

The key factor here is that the company will be able to borrow much of the almost €10bn required to update the creaking network without driving up the national debt.

Documents accompanying the Government Spring Statement on the economy admit that  for safety sake it is best to count it as part of the government accounts.

The official documents note that the Central Statistics Office has sent an application to the EU statistical authority, Eurostat, arguing the case for a stand-alone Irish Water company.

"Pending this final adjudication, it is prudent for forecasting purposes to treat all of Irish Water’s forecast expenditure as general government expenditure on a provisional basis," the document states.

A verdict from Eurostat, based in Luxembourg, is not now expected until the autumn. Officials say this result will be definitively factored into the October Budget.

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