Ireland may delay introducing water charges agreed to as part of its international bailout accord until 2015 as not enough meters have been installed, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said.
While Ireland is scheduled to impose water charges at the start of next year, Noonan said in comments aired today by state-owned broadcaster RTE Radio there won’t be sufficient metering in place nationally by then.
“Whether it’s the back end of 2014 or extends into 2015, we’re not quite sure yet,” Noonan said on RTE Radio. The government agreed to charge households for water under its 67.5 billion-euro ($87 billion) rescue program entered into in 2010.
The ultimate start of water charges depends on the pace of the rollout of water meters and talks with the country’s creditors, including the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank, Noonan said. Irish authorities expect water charges to generate about 500 million euros in 2015, according to an IMF report on Dec. 11
The government decided last year to set up a new utility, Irish Water, within its existing state-owned gas company, Bord Gais. It has committed to publishing water services legislation as early as the third quarter to establish “the regulatory framework for the water sector under a national public utility,” the IMF said in a report published last week.
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