Tuesday 10 December 2019

Cabinet in a muddle over new charges

MINISTERS were 'in a muddle' today amid mounting Cabinet confusion over two new charges to be imposed on households.

The Coalition partners were sharply criticised for creating "utter confusion" about the two new bills facing all homes next year.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan has continued to insist that a new type of property tax on all homes will be imposed from January, which will be different from water charges being introduced the following year.

The new 'property' tax will be a flat-rate household charge until a nationwide valuation of properties is completed.

But Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore have said no formal decision has been made by Cabinet about the new charges.

Fianna Fail public expenditure spokesman Michael McGrath said there is now "utter confusion" in the Government about the charges.

"People at home want to know where they stand and whether they will be paying this charge from the beginning of next year," he said.

The household charge will be used to pay for local services and will ultimately be replaced by a full property tax based on the value of the home.

The Government's separate water charge will be introduced once homes get water meters. But the details of this rollout are still not agreed.

The latest clash between Cabinet members is seen as further turmoil following the debacle over Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton's proposals to cut wages for low-paid workers.

Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore were giving differing accounts to Minister Hogan, claiming no decision had been made.

Mr Gilmore said the Government had not considered a household charge.

"What is in the Programme for Government is a proposal in relation to metering for water. The proposals on how that might be implemented has not yet been finalised by Government," he said.

And the Taoiseach sided with Mr Gilmore.

"The Government has not made a decision in regard to this yet and when the Government does make a decision on that, obviously everybody will know about it," said Mr Kenny.

See Analysis, Page 14

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