Stephen Farry MLA stated: “Deferring water charges further into the future may well be the right thing to do for Northern Ireland households, provided that such decisions are taken in the context of full consideration of all of the competing priorities facing the Executive, including the need to invest in economic modernisation or fixing our health service.
“However, the Regional Development Minister has been reckless in making this proposal now, and his Executive colleagues will share in such irresponsibility if as expected they sign off on this.
“The Executive has already announced the postponement of water charges for 2009/10 and 2010/11 at a cost of almost £400m, without having identified where in the Budget this money is to come from. Any further postponement would cost around £200m a year.
“Furthermore, this decision would lie outside the context of the current spending framework from the UK Government which ends in April 2011. What happens beyond that point is still to be determined, and there is great uncertainty over what comes next.
“The Executive cannot continue to place populism over prudence indefinitely. Rather conveniently, this move would take the difficult decisions to beyond the next election.”