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Government 'disappointed' watchdog refuses to join group to monitor bin charges

The government announced a price monitoring group would be set-up to ensure waste collectors do not hike up their prices.

File Photo A ban on fixed-price waste collection is being introduced by the Government to encourage recycling and reduce the amount of rubbish Source: RollingNews.ie

THE DEPARTMENT OF the Environment has said it is “disappointed” the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has refused to join a monitoring group which will  be tasked to oversee the phasing out of flat rate waste collection fees.

It was announced in July that flat fee bin charges are to be scrapped in a shaking-up of the waste charging regime.

The government had announced that a price monitoring group would be established to ensure waste collectors do not hike up their prices with the introduction of a pay-by-weight scheme.

When the change was announced, Fianna Fáil argued that a waste regulator for the industry should be established. However, in a bid to satisfy Fianna Fáil, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, said a monitoring group would be set up.

At the time, the minister said the CCPC would be involved, however, the consumer agency has raised concerns about the monitoring group.

 

“It is disappointing that the CCPC does not wish to take part in the government’s waste pricing monitoring unit. We note its concerns in relation to its independence and we look forward to its report on competition in the waste market sector,” the department said in a statement today.

It continued:

Minister Denis Naughten’s priority is the monitoring of rates on behalf of the consumer to ensure there is no price gouging by waste operators as flat fees are being phased out over the coming months.
The government’s pricing monitoring unit is tracking prices currently being offered. This unit consists of independent economic experts with experience in market prices, statistical analysts from the CSO, St Vincent de Paul and senior officials from the Department of Environment.
The unit will report to government on a monthly basis and these reports will be publicly available.

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Timmy Dooley, said the decision by the CCPC to question the effectiveness of the price monitoring group is “significant”.

He said it reinforces the need for an independent regulator for the sector to be established.

“The refusal of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to partake in the waste price monitoring group is significant, and indeed leads me to question the effectiveness of the Government established body.

“The government’s handling of the waste charging regime over the past 18 months has been nothing short of shambolic. New charging systems were announced without any consultation and understandably people were extremely anxious that these new regimes would push up prices,” he said.

Finance and Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe has warned that if the industry is seen to bump up prices significantly for customers, there will be consequences.

“If he [Minister Naughten] sees practice taking place over the next period that he is unhappy with he will consider other options in relation to all of that,” he told reporters during the summer.

Read: A lot more people are getting a brown bin for recycling>

Read: Flat charges on your bins are to be scrapped>

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