A Blog About Human Rights
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Human Rights in Ireland >>
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Urging a high turnout at Saturday’s Right2Water protests, Campaign says household Water Charges are Subsidy to Business
The Right2Water campaign said today (Wednesday January 20th) that water charges are being used to give tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest in our society. Pointing out that households only use 10 percent of water but are now expected to pay up to 78 percent of all costs while corporations and agriculture use 90 percent of all water but will only pay 22 percent of the costs, Right2Water said that water charges amount to a ‘transfer of wealth’.
Households use 10 per cent of water but expected to pay nearly 80 per cent of costs
The six Right2Water Trade Unions – including the CPSU, CWU, Mandate, OPATSI, TEEU and Unite – released new information about water charges ahead of a series of demonstrations taking place across the country this Saturday, 23rd January 2016. The campaign is urging anyone opposed to water charges or Irish Water to attend any of the 27 demonstrations taking place across the country. Details are available on www.right2water.ie.
The Unions said that our water services have been underfunded for years in anticipation of water charges.
Right2Water Coordinator Brendan Ogle gave a presentation during which he said: “The last two Irish governments cut funding for our water and sewage services from €839m in 2008 to €289m in 2013 – a cut of 65 percent in five short years. Is it any wonder we had boil water notices in places like Roscommon and Galway. But they now have the cheek to come to us and say the system is underinvested and we need water charges.”
The presentation is available for download here: http://right2water.ie/sites/default/files/media/Right2W....pptx
Mr Ogle said the real reason behind water charges had less to do with upgrading infrastructure or conservation than with what he termed a “transfer of wealth on a massive scale”.
He added, “All of the expensive consultants and a massive advertising campaign from Irish Water cannot hide the real agenda behind these unfair charges which is to shift the burden of paying for water from commercial enterprises to households; give tax breaks to the wealthy while imposing water charges on everyone else; and line our water industry up for future presentation”.
Pointing out that corporations and agriculture use 90% of all water but are expected to pay only 22% of the costs. Mr Ogle also noted that despite the fact that water metering does not aid conservation - when all of the costs of metering are taken into account involving installation, maintenance, administration and replacement - the cost for water provision more than doubles.
“Household water charges are essentially a subsidy to business," said Mr Ogle.
“Water charges are an economically inefficient imposition on the public, which will do nothing to promote conservation but will facilitate a transfer of wealth on a massive scale. Right2Water is calling on all members of the public to come out to support their local Right2Water event this Saturday”, Mr Ogle concluded.
Full details available at www.right2water.ie.
NOTE TO EDITOR
Shifting the burden of paying for water from commercial enterprises to households
According to the EU, households only use 10 percent of all water with corporations and agriculture using 90 percent. However, when you look at who will be paying for water in the new regime, they’re expecting households to pay up to 78 percent of all costs which is obviously a subsidy to big business and the people who will pay the price are the people with the lowest incomes.
Giving tax breaks to the wealthy while imposing water charges on everyone else
In the 2015 Budget, the Irish Government gave a €405m tax break to the top 17% of earners. In the most recent Budget they gave further tax cuts disproportionately benefiting the highest earners. Those tax cuts widened the wealth gap in Ireland by €1,003 in two short years.
At the same time, Minister Alan Kelly has said he expects households to pay €271m in water charges, on top of what they already pay through general taxation. This is simply a transfer of wealth from the poorest in our society to the wealthiest. The unemployed, underemployed, disabled and pensioners all spend more of their time in the home than those who are lucky enough to be in full-time employment. This means they’ll use more water and when the cap on charges of €260 per year ends in 2019, their water bills will spiral out of control.
Lining up the future privatisation of our water industry
Water is one of the most profitable industries in the world. In 2013, in Britain, private water companies made profits of €2.81bn and paid €2.55bn to shareholders while paying only €101m in taxes. Seven water companies paid no corporation tax at all.
The dividends paid out to UK water companies are double that of your average non-financial company. As a result, there is almost no retained profit which is usually used to invest in the water system and upgrade decaying infrastructure.
More than half of all water companies in the UK are owned by Private Equity Consortiums – a group of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI). The impact is that for every £100 spent on a water bill in the UK, between £20 and £30 goes directly to the companies and is paid out in dividends to shareholders.
Right2Water say the Irish Government’s steadfast refusal to hold a referendum which would enshrine ownership in the hands of the public is evidence that privatisation is on the agenda, irrespective of what any political party says.
When the Troika visited Portugal and Greece, their bailout terms included the privatisation of water services. That was because they had already metered, meaning there was a revenue stream in place. Ireland hadn’t put in place a revenue stream so the Troika took step one and forced the metering programme into our Memorandum of Understanding. Next step will no doubt be full privatisation.
Without a referendum, there will be nothing a future government can do to prevent this.