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Irish Water has been placed (temporarily) on the government's balance sheet

To meet the Eurostat test, the utility must cover half of its operating costs from income received from customers.

Image: Photocall Ireland

IRISH WATER HAS been put on the State’s books – at least provisionally.

In an update on its website, the Central Statistics Office said the beleaguered utility had been placed on the list of bodies which are directly or indirectly controlled by Government.

“This is a preliminary and provisional classification, agreed with Eurostat, pending a final classification decision,” the CSO said.

“This approach was agreed between CSO and Eurostat during the 2014 EDP dialogue as a prudential measure in the event that a final classification decision on Irish Water had not been reached by the time of the March EDP [Excessive Deficit Procedure] notification.

“A classification proposal on Irish Water is currently with Eurostat.”

Such updates to the ‘Register of Public Sector Bodies’ are made twice a year by the CSO.

The EU Commission’s statistical body is due to decide whether the company can be judged to be independent from government next month.

To meet the Eurostat test, the utility must cover half of its operating costs from income received from customers.

Back in January, the Commission expressed concern about the Government’s revised water charges package.

In a draft report as part of its review of Ireland’s post-bailout economic progress, it said the extent to which Irish Water can borrow on the markets had yet to be determined.

The document warned that the utility may not be able to become self-funding, as charges had been capped until the end of 2018.

If Irish Water fails its market test, it could mean the budget deficit would be increased by about 0.3% of GDP.

Ministers have said repeatedly over the last few months that they remain “confident” the company will pass the European test.

Read: Joan Burton thinks RTÉ got a bit too excited about the water protests (but RTÉ doesn’t agree)

Read: Irish Water to start fixing leaks – even if they’re inside your gate

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