A CONFIDENTIAL Troika report has revealed that water charges are still on course to be introduced early next year - despite the delays in bringing forward the legislation.
Government sources have been briefing that the water charges will be delayed until after the local elections in summer next year - given that householders are adjusting to paying a property tax.
But in their latest report, the troika revealed that water charges are still on the way early next year- as required under the bailout programme.
"The course now appears firmly set to introduce water charges for domestic users in early 2014, broadly in line with the programme," it said.
It said that the implementation of water charges had gathered momentum in recent months - with installation of water meters by the Irish Water body due to begin in July. However, it said the Government still had not made a decision on how much people would be charged. And it pointed out the problem of charging people for water even before the installation of water meters was completed.
"Public acceptance will require that a fair and equitable structure of charges be devised on an assessed asa well as on a metered basis, as the two systems will co-exist until the installation of meters is completed," it said.
The 46-page report was prepared by a team from the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF during their last inspection visit to Dublin. Its other key finding included:
::The health sector remains one of the key "implementation risks" for restoring the public finances. Monthly briefings are to be given to the Troika on health spending,to ensure that there is no repeat of last year's €360m overspend. Health Minister Dr James Reilly has insisted that he has no problem with the higher level of scrutiny -and that the health budget will come in on target this year.
:: The troika wants the Government to speed up the training of the long term unemployed, which it said is now becoming a "critical bottleneck".