The ink on the new water plan issued by the Government hasn’t even got a chance to dry, yet the Troika is already issuing sound bites about a possible return to austerity.
According to the Government’s European paymasters, the new plan raises the possibility of missing the budget target set by them for next year, thus signalling a plunge back into the darkness of budget cuts and tax hikes.
The Troika also expressed dismay at the level of public backlash against the charges and against Irish Water in particular.
The next hurdle for the Government is to pass the charges through EU spending rules. Though ministers are confident that the charges will pass the European test, they admitted there is a chance they might not.
In this scenario, water charges would be counted as Government expenditure, which means that water costs would be kept on the Government’s balance sheet. Should this happen, in all likelihood next year’s deficit target would be missed.
Troika officials are on the ground in Dublin for a follow-up review on post-bailout progress.
And Eurostat, the agency that monitors spending by all European member Governments, is reportedly already in contact with officials here in relation to these matters.