December 2014 in the Dáil, a debate raged over the costs and figures relating to the government's new proposals for charging for domestic water, and a number of very interesting revelations came out of the debate.
It turns out that the government are basing their figures on only 1.3 million homes yet Irish Water claim to have sent out applications to 2.008 million, while the census claims to contain 1.65 million homes. Nobody in government seems to be sure on what figures they are basing their calculations? The government claimed that the difference was that there were 350,000 unoccupied houses. Well that accounts for half of it but where are the rest?
Do we have Irish Water claiming and being paid for 700,000 more houses than actually exist or have the government totally under costed this project? I am completely confused because we had a similar argument over the household charges and the government assured us there were 1.9 million homes back then. So does anyone in the government have a clue what they are doing
What does seem apparent though from the debate is that this water charging program the government has come up with is a completely worthless sham, and simply an exercise in money laundering as it accrues absolutely zero benefit to the country or the water delivery system.
According to the government the charges will bring in gross revenue of €271 million. Yet there are costs of collecting this and running the metering system as follows:
Cost of Dept of Social Welfare grants €166 m
Annual capital cost of meters €41 m
Billing by Irish Water €22 m
Cost of processing grants (not known so estimated) €5 m
Cost of meter maintenance (not known so estimated) €8 m
Total annual costs €242 m
This means we have a Net annual revenue accruing from the water metering program is only €29 million
Now if the government’s 1.3 million homes figure is wrong, as the CSO says, then that is another €35 million in grant costs. This means that there is ZERO benefit accruing from the project. In fact it will cost more money to implement than it brings in !
So to summarise, they want to strip another €271 million out of people’s pockets and simply launder it all away into the hands of a giant quango and private subcontractors profits while it raises absolutely no income to the state coffers, and in fact is running at a multi-million euro loss; and yet not a single pipe fixed, not a single treatment plant built or improved, not a single waste treatment upgraded
Either we have a completely brainless government or we have a completely corrupt one? I think we know this is no mistake, especially considering they also voted down a motion to enshrine a 2/3rds majority vote in a Dáil as a prerequisite on any future attempt to privatise water ownership.
Clearly this is not about money at this moment, they will take the hit on it at this early stage. This is about getting the infrastructure in place for future privatisation. This is about having it ready for whoever buys it, to have the facility to charge people 5 or 10 times what they charge for water now. There is no other reason for setting up a loss making water charging system.
On a related subject, if the government say there are 350,000 unoccupied homes, then how the hell do we have such a huge homeless problem, and how are prices rising apparently because of a lack of supply !!! How stupid do they think we are ?