Monday 20th October, 2014
What a wonderful business to be in, where your customers have no alternative but to use your product or else die. Sounds like the dream business. But that’s exactly the business model for the monopoly utility Irish Water, except it’s not a business it’s a tax collecting operation.
ISME approves of having to pay for water because it is a scarce resource and we need to conserve it but to call Irish Water a commercial operation, which Minister Richard Bruton has done, is disingenuous and is crass nonsense. This is the Minister’s and the Government’s excuse for not having to deal with the madness of paying bonuses to people to run a public utility. This is not public service. This is self-service.
How can anyone justify a bonus to people for doing their job properly, or half properly? In the harsh commercial world bonuses are paid for getting greater sales or for creating value within a company. Bonuses are never paid for just doing your job. That’s called your salary. If you want a bonus then you have to find ways of making your company more profitable. And if that is the case for Irish Water are we going to see Irish Water ad campaigns urging us to spend longer in the showers ‘for a cleaner Ireland’ or to ‘flush once, flush twice – to be sure, to be sure’ – all so that we’ll use more water?
Irish Water is a State monopoly with a public sector remit, headed by a public sector lifer, which has no commercial mandate. Irish Water is not going to bottle ‘Irish Water’ and sell it to the UK or beyond. Irish Water is not going to give us Water Lite or Water Zero. All Irish Water is doing is making sure that the same water we have always received arrives clean (not always) through our taps and then they’ll collect money from us for the pleasure. We have no alternative. It’s a tax. Irish Water is a tax collector.
If public sector workers want bonuses, ISME would welcome them to join the ranks of the productive sector, to set up an SME, make a great go of it and then to pay themselves whatever they want, by way of bonuses, dividends, golden parachutes – whatever - from the wealth they have created. If people want to work in the public sector, where there is zero risk, zero wealth being created, zero chance of unemployment but 100% chance of a fully (unfunded) pension, good for them. But don’t pay them bonuses.
And to rub dirty water into the wound, since Budget 2015 Irish Water workers are now paying 3% less tax than the productive self-employed that pays their salaries. You couldn’t make it up.