Tuesday 17 July 2018

Water charges gone but no refund on bills

■ Economic uncertainty 'higher than height of financial crisis', warns report

Water issues continues to dog Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Water issues continues to dog Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Kevin Doyle and Niall O'Connor

Water charges are to be scrapped for the forseeable future after Taoiseach Enda Kenny capitulated to Fianna Fáil to cling to power.

Bills for all householders will now be suspended and the issue of the future of Irish Water will be kicked to a commission of independent experts.

But those who paid their bills over the past year will not get a refund.

Although the suspension of bills is being spun as lasting just nine months, the bills are unlikely to return for several years - if ever.

A commission will be set up to examine water charges and will sit for up to nine months. Its report will be referred to a cross-party Oireachtas committee which will have the power to call witnesses.

No definitive timeline has been agreed for when the committee would finish its work, but one senior source suggested last night the issue could be resolved by summer 2017.

When this lengthy process finally ends, the Dáil will vote on the future of the country's water infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the recovery is spreading at a faster rate as consumers loosen their grip on savings and tax receipts run ahead of target, a new report on the economy says.

But the Government report also warns of the dangers of Britain leaving the EU and the potential for other economic shocks due to global events: "Internationally the level of uncertainty is higher than... the height of the financial crisis."

Irish Independent

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