Demand complete abolition of Irish Water and water charges; water services and infrastructure to be funded through progressive central taxation

aaa pbpThe Anti-Austerity Alliance- People Before Profit group (AAA-PBP) have entered their submission to the Expert Water Commission.

The submission calls for the abolition of water charges and Irish Water. It says that the funding for water services and infrastructure should be paid for through central progressive taxation, that the delivery of water services should be transferred back to the Local Authorities and coordinated and managed by a single national water and sanitation board. They have also called for a referendum to be held to amend the constitution to guarantee the public ownership of the public water system and natural resources in the constitution.

AAA-PBP said that abolition of the charges and Irish Water should be accompanied by an amnesty for outstanding bills and a refund for those who have paid and charges related to water charges protest activity should be dropped. It also calls for a ‘fair deal’ for rural dwellers that are not part of the public water system.

Bríd Smith TD said “We have made this submission to the Expert Water Commission despite the obvious fact that it is a mechanism to stall the water charges issue. Water charges must be abolished, that is what the people have said through a 73% boycott of Irish Water bills, through the mass mobilisations which saw hundreds of thousands take to the streets all over the country and through the election where the majority of TD’s were elected on an anti-water charges/anti-Irish Water mandate. For the government to try to stall this is anti-democratic.

“Irish Water has also been incredibly wasteful. The cost of the metering programme, consultancy fees, the conservation grant and advertising amongst other things have cost a fortune and have not purified one drop of water or fixed one pipe.”

Paul Murphy TD said “The sole purpose of the Water Commission is to give the government the answer which they want to hear – that water charges are needed.  It has been stacked in the government’s favour with ‘experts’ who support charging for water. It will provide them with ‘cover’ as they attempt to resurrect charges once again.

“In our submission, we have outlined the position of the vast majority of people – that charges must go and that it should be paid for through progressive, general taxation. That all arrears should be abolished, that those who paid should be refunded and that Irish Water should be abolished. With the first of the Jobstown trials beginning next week, all charges related to water charges protests should be dropped.”

Richard Boyd Barrett TD said “The question of abolishing water charges is a simple question of democracy. Anything less than abolition is a role back on election promises. The will of the people is to abolish water charges, not suspend them. We are calling for water services and infrastructure to be put under the control of a national water and sanitation board and be delivered by the Local Authorities. It is clear that Irish Water, water charges and the metering programme were set up with the intention of privatisation. Water is a human right and it is not something to be commodified. The only guarantee against privatisation of water services is to abolish domestic water charges. If water charges are not abolished this will be punished by the people.

“Water services and infrastructure should be funded through central progressive taxation and should be under the control of a national water and sanitation board and delivered by the Local Authorities. We also need serious investment in our water system. Thanks to Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, the Green Party and Labour governments over past decades our water system has deteriorated due to under investment. We are calling for capital investment of €1bn per year over the next five years to ensure access to quality water and sanitation for all, to deal with the leaks and bring our water system into the 21st century.”

Ruth Coppinger TD said “A key part of the government’s spin around Irish Water has been that it will allow a significant increase in invetsment in the water infrastructure. However, the investment model which it has proposed only sees a very minimal increase in spending on infrastructure with €1.77 billion over three years up from the average of €0.5billion spent yearly since 2000.

“Instead of allowing the loss making model of Irish Water and water charges to stagger we propose that the charge and the company are scrapped. Because of the massive boycott, the cost of the so called ‘conservation grant’ the failure of the ‘off-balance sheet model’ which has resulted in higher borrowing costs – the company is losing money.

“We are calling for the company to be scrapped with the workers transferred back to the Local Authorities. We propose that the infrastruture is maintained and improved with an investment programme of €1 billion a year to upgrade the system and eliminate the leaks.”

Read FULL Submission HERE: submission-to-panel-on-irish-water-aaa-pbp