Irish Water fails EUROSTAT – we advance

Date:
Eurostat, the EU statistics agency, will likely decide today that the Irish State’s spending on Irish Water will stay on the exchequer balance sheet. Since Irish Water has failed the market corporation test, money spent on it will be included in the annual deficit and national debt (as measured to meet EU austerity targets). This decision is likely to hold until 2017 [1]. It follows a European Commission report earlier this year which questioned whether Irish Water was ever likely to be self-funding.
 
The government has consistently argued that Irish Water would pass the Eurostat test. Now, it turns out that it was wrong. Less than half of Irish Water’s revenue comes from customers. Charges collected in the first three months of the year suggested, at best, a compliance rate of 46%. Meanwhile, in yesterday’s news, the CEO of Irish Water’s parent company Ervia defended his €334,000 annual pay package.
 
Anticipating the findings of the Eurostat report, due for release later today, we can only note the tone of upset and melancholy amongst our ideologically undeterred brothers and sisters in the Irish Times, RTÉ and Irish Independent. The Irish Times reports the decision as bad news because it claims that the State will not now enjoy a ‘hoped-for boost to the 2016 budget figures’ and will have less scope to invest in water and other areas [1]. Perhaps government largesse was at fault. Cliff Taylor suspects that the problem may have been the government’s decision to introduce a new €100 water conservation grant to households last November [2]. Again, the conservation grant is cited in the RTE report as “one of the key issues that is likely to be considered” [3]. But don’t expect things to change folks. The Irish Independent’s John Dowling cites ‘sources’ claiming that “irrespective of the outcome of any such test, the Government would persist with Irish Water as the single water services provider for the country” [4]. Isn't the definition of insanity to keep trying the same thing and to expect a different result? 
 
The decision is significant for our Irish Water War. It suggests we are winning. We do not want to have our water commodified and then privatised. We are outraged that this is being done to preserve the wealth and privileges of a global financial capitalist class and their political servants in the EU and Ireland. We have gotten up before dawn to prevent water meter installation on our streets. We have marched and organised in our thousands, shouting “No way, we won't pay”. We have forced the government into climb-downs and concessions. We have decided to boycott and to encourage our friends, co-workers and neighbours to do the same. Our communities are strong and growing stronger. We will keep on growing long after Irish Water is buried forever. 
 
WORDS: Tom Murray
 
MEDIA REFERENCES
[1] Sarah Bardon, Cliff Taylor, “Irish Water must stay on State balance sheet, EU says” in Irish Times, Tuesday, July 28, 2015.
[2] “Questions thrown up by Eurostat ruling on Irish Water”, Irish Times, Tuesday, July 28, 2015.
[3] “EU agency to rule on Irish Water funding”, RTE, Tuesday 28 July 2015 10.52
[4] “Irish Water to remain on national balance sheet following Brussels ruling”, Irish Independent, Tuesday 28 July 2015.
 

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