This week the Dáil is discussing Government priorities and, clearly, one of these is the introduction of water charges in the final quarter of this year. Last month, the Taoiseach said in the House that the Government would produce a financial and business model that would enable people to know the amounts on the bills that would come in their doors. He modified that subsequently to say that they would know the average charge for water across the country and he said the Government would produce a financial and business model. Everybody is waiting for this model, which will outline the free allowance, public subvention and other matters. Most people would like to know what their bill will be, not the average bill. Why has there been a delay in producing the business model? This essentially relates to Government decisions on the free allowance, public subvention and the first fixed charge.
Irish Water has been up and running since Mr. John Tierney was appointed in January 2013. A total of €180 million has been spent on establishing this entity but it seems the Taoiseach is nowhere near being in a position to provide transparency about the amount people will pay. The reason the regulator cannot set a price and Irish Water cannot make a submission to the regulator is that the Government has not made those decisions. Why did the Government delay and why does it continue to delay publishing the business model, given all the money that has been spent in Irish Water on recruitment and so on? It is stretching credibility to suggest that the Taoiseach would not know the bottom line at this stage.