The BBC are reporting on the projected cost of ‘forthcoming’ water charges, a cost that is part of the RRI (Reinvestment and Reform Initiative) agreed by Trimble and Durkan. The original debate in the Assembly shows some of the scare stories at the time over how the loan would be repaid have turned out to be correct.
Mr McCartney: Will the rates be increased?
The First Minister: The rates might be increased or something else might be increased. That is what we have to consider. The rating review opens up the issue for discussion. The Assembly and the community in Northern Ireland must face that discussion. We must recognise that the level of taxation in local government in Northern Ireland is less than that in England, Scotland and Wales. Therefore we must consider that point and ask whether additional revenue can be found to meet the cost of future borrowing.
Some of the scare stories that have been spread in the media about what this may mean are, however, greatly exaggerated. The Assembly will make any decisions on the matter, and I hope that when we reach that point there will be grown-up discussion and consideration instead of some of the sillier points that have been raised in recent months.