Sunday 16 December 2018

Common sense prevails in water charges deal

Michael Noonan labelled water charges a “dead cat” and urged his party to get it off the agenda. Stock picture
Michael Noonan labelled water charges a “dead cat” and urged his party to get it off the agenda. Stock picture
Editorial

Editorial

Michael Noonan labelled water charges a "dead cat" and urged his party to get it off the agenda.

This particular dead cat appears to have more than nine lives.

The end is in sight for water charges now, six years after their introduction was first agreed by the Fianna Fáil-led government that presided over the economic collapse.

Of course, Fianna Fáil doesn't like to be reminded of that fact - or its agreement with the Green Party to bring them in, either.

Before the issue was put to one side, there was the small matter of ensuring Ireland is in compliance with EU law.

A not insignificant final hurdle, it was a bit like putting Becher's Brook in the final stretch of the Aintree Grand National.

In a not-so-surprising development, legal advice to the Oireactas committee on water charges said that it is necessary to have provision to penalise people who waste water.

The recklessness displayed by Fianna Fáil in attempting to ignore European directives merely compounded the incompetence of Fine Gael in the introduction of charges.

Displaying new-found maturity, Fianna Fáil is now agreeing that EU directives do have to be adhered to. Certain parties want the benefits of EU membership, yet seem to adopt an á la carte approach to EU law.

Let's be clear: water charges are gone for the majority.

The only people who should and will pay bills are those householders who waste water and use water in excess of a generous allowance.

Common sense has prevailed.

And the dead cat just keeps on bouncing.

Income tax offering will be vital to 'win' Brexit

Taoiseach Enda Kenny reckons there's no room for income tax cuts because public sector pay rises will swallow up any available extra revenue.

Although he is still the Taoiseach, his role in future fiscal policy will be limited as he won't be in charge by the time the next Budget comes around.

Mr Kenny will be gone, but he does point to a number of legacy projects from his term in office over the course of the last two governments, such as public sector pay agreements.

What was alarming about Mr Kenny's comments was his suggestion the country has a "tax offering that's stable, that's transparent, that's competitive".

When a worker is paying over 50c in every euro earned in tax, then that isn't a competitive system.

Thankfully, his likely successor, Leo Varadkar, has made reducing the tax burden on middle-income earners a key plank of his campaign for the Fine Gael leadership.

Mr Varadkar rightly feels the State should not be taking more than 50pc of earnings in tax and the higher income tax rates are acting as a disincentive for skilled workers, who add value to the economy, to work here.

He wants to reform USC, bring down the marginal rate to no more than 50pc and raise the point at which people start paying the top rate. Notably, Mr Kenny was challenged on his income tax policies at a Fine Gael Brexit meeting. The competitiveness of our economy and tax offering will be vital if we are to 'win' Brexit.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss