I propose to take Questions Nos. 22 and 45 together.
The Water Sector Reform Implementation Strategy, which is published on my Department's website, is focused on ensuring that appropriate policy and legal frameworks are put in place for Irish Water and the water sector. A key objective of the reform programme is to rationalise the cost of the current service delivery and ensure more efficient operation of water services by moving from 34 water services authorities to a single body; following enactment of comprehensive legislation later this year, these functions will transfer to Irish Water.
Bord Gáis has put in place appropriate programme management arrangements to establish Irish Water, prepare for the transfer of assets, liabilities and functions from local authorities from 1 January 2014, provide for customer service and billing and implement the domestic water metering programme. Expenditure on this programme is a matter for Bord Gáis/Irish Water and these costs are not being funded from the Exchequer. The National Pensions Reserve Fund has provided a bridging loan facility to Irish Water to meet the costs arising to the end of 2013. This includes the initial stages of the domestic water metering programme, the full cost of which is €539m excluding VAT.
Following the transfer of water services functions to Irish Water from 1 January 2014, a new funding model will be in place to meet both capital and operational costs of the new entity. Irish Water's costs in the coming years will be funded through a mix of revenue from the domestic and non-domestic sector, third party finance (such as the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, EIB, bank lending and capital markets facilities) and State support which may be in the form of both equity and subvention.
The Exchequer proposes a direct equity investment of €240m towards the capital funding of Irish Water in 2014. This will support projects to be included in Irish Water's Capital Investment Plan and will ensure that the entity is in a position to take on the water services investment programmes of the 34 water services authorities, including some 80 projects currently in progress. Irish Water will also finance some of its costs and the liabilities transferred from local authorities through borrowings in 2014.
The establishment of Irish Water and its financial relationship with the local government sector will have a considerable impact on local authority financing from 2014. Work is also underway on the funding model for Irish Water's operational costs, to ensure that Irish Water can fund the Service Level Agreements being put in place with local authorities for the delivery of water services in 2014.