Water charges due by end 2014

Latest Troika memorandum gives new dates for water charges and bank stress tests

The Government has agreed a new, later start date for water charges

The Government has agreed a new, later start date for water charges


New later dates for the introduction of water charges and for conducting stress tests on the banks are contained in the latest memorandum published by the Department of Finance as part of Ireland’s bailout programme.

Since the last such publication, the EU/EC/IMF team has discussed with the Irish authorities a likely date for the introduction of water charges, given that the installation of metering has yet to begin.

In the latest memorandum, the ninth update published as part of the bailout programme, the Government says it will by the end of this year announce a definitive timeplan for the introduction of domestic water charges in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Originally the charges were to have been in place by the beginning of 2014.

“Consultations will be carried out to determine the framework for water charges,” the document says.

The latest memorandum also says that stress tests for the Irish banks will now be carried out next year, close to or slightly before similar tests are to be carried out on banks across the EU. At one stage, it had been envisaged that the Irish tests would occur this year. Ireland will use the same methodology in its tests as those used in other EU states.

Speaking at the launch of the Irish Strategic Investment Fund in Grangegorman yesterday, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said it had been agreed with the Troika that the next set of tests would take place “slightly ahead” of Europe-wide prudential capital assessment reviews. These are not scheduled until some time in 2014.

Irish banks were originally to have been stress tested before the end of this year, in advance of the conclusion of our bailout programme.

Mr Noonan said some form of “backstop” arrangement would be put in place to smooth Ireland’s exit from the bailout and its full re-entry into the markets.

The minister said there is no reason to believe that the Irish banks will need additional capital as a result of a new round of stress tests. “We are well within the margins at present,” he said. Earlier this week, ratings agency Fitch suggested Irish banks might need further capital to meet tighter Basel III requirements.

Other matters covered by the memorandum include the reporting by the authorities by the middle of this year of options for lowering the funding cost of banks’ tracker mortgages, with a study later in the year comparing Irish bank fees with those of banks abroad.

The memorandum also includes a commitment to consider changing company law to facilitate the restructuring of small and medium-sized enterprises that have unsustainable debts, in particular businesses with multi-creditor debts.