From Socialist Voice, August 2006

Workers to pay more for services

Workers and their families will face further rises in the cost of services provided by local government because of a legal threat issued by the European Union in early July. The European Commission has received a legal opinion that public bodies are not exempt from having to apply VAT to public services, such as car parking and bin charges. As a result, VAT of 13½ to 21 per cent will be levied on many public services.
    The European Commission is threatening to take the Government to the European Court of Justice. This body is notoriously in favour of big business and constantly rules against national governments in favour of EU centralisation.
    The Government has been given two months to amend legislation so as to levy VAT on public services. Under EU regulations, Government departments, local authorities and other public bodies should be treated as taxable persons. They rule that it is “unfair” and a distortion of “competition” if public services do not charge VAT for similar services provided by the private sector.
    This will be a significant added burden on working families. If VAT is applied to bin charges in the Fingal County Council area, a single bin charge could go up from the present €7.50 to €9.07. The Government has already been forced to apply VAT on tolls collected on toll roads.
    The interference of the European Union on the side of business is costing Irish workers more and more. The hallmark of sovereignty is the ability to make your own decisions, to suit the conditions and priorities of the people of a particular nation. This is just another case of big business pushing its agenda, regardless of the price.

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