Monday,18 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1397, (7 - 20 June 2018)
Monday,18 February, 2019
Issue 1397, (7 - 20 June 2018)

Ahram Weekly

More expensive water

New increases in water prices are expected just 10 months after the last round of rises, reports Safeya Mounir 

More expensive water
More expensive water

For the second time in 10 months the government has approved increases in the price of water for consumers from all consumption tiers. Sewage fees have also been raised by up to 63 per cent and are to be added to water bills.

Prices of water for domestic use increased from LE0.45 to LE0.65 per cubic metre for those consuming up to 10 cubic metres per day, marking a 44.4 per cent increase. Those consuming 11 to 20 cubic metres will pay LE1.6 instead of LE1.2 per cubic metre. 

Those consuming 21 to 30 cubic metres will pay LE2.25 instead of LE1.65, and those consuming up to 40 cubic metres will be charged LE2.75. Above that, the price will be LE3.15 per cubic metre, a 46.5 per cent increase in price.

There will be a single tariff for the border governorates in Sinai, the Red Sea and Marsa Matrouh of LE0.13 per cubic metre of water.

Prices of water not slated for residential use, which are not divided into tiers, have also been hiked. Water for the service sector increased from LE2 to LE3.3 per cubic metre, for the governmental sector from LE2.2 to LE3.4, for the commercial sector from LE2.4 to LE3.6, and for the industrial sector from LE3.35 to LE4.45 per cubic metre.

The service sector, which includes religious institutions, orphanages and the headquarters of political parties and syndicates, saw the highest increase in prices of 65 per cent, followed by the governmental sector, with a 54.5 per cent increase. The lowest price hike was reserved for the tourism and industrial sectors, while a new tariff for sports and social clubs was also introduced at LE10 for every cubic metre of water.

However, “clubs receive a 75 per cent discount on water bills, pricing a cubic metre of water at LE2.5 with the new increases in prices,” Mamdouh Raslan, chairman of the Holding Company for Water and Wastewater (HCWW), told Al-Ahram Weekly. 

“The real cost of a cubic metre of drinking water is LE2.6,” he noted.

The HCWW is suffering from severe budget deficits, Raslan said, because of its own rising costs. Water is subsidised to ensure low prices, but government subsidies were no longer enough, he added. 

Before the latest increases, the government had raised water prices in August 2017. The tier consuming up to 10 cubic metres of water was then charged LE0.45 up from LE0.3. LE1.2, instead of LE0.7, was paid by the tier consuming between 10 and 20 cubic metres, and LE1.65 was paid by the tier using 21 to 30 cubic metres of water instead of LE1.55.

With 2,715 water pumping stations in operation, the HCWW covers 95 per cent of the country’s consumption of water. According to HCWW figures, the company produces 25.3 million cubic metres of drinking water.

Raslan earlier stated that increases in the prices of materials used for the production of drinking water, such as electricity, chlorine and alum, would result in increases in the price of water. Such increases were necessary “so the HCWW can continue to provide its services,” he said. 

Despite the latest price hikes, Raslan said the company was still not charging the real cost of producing a cubic metre of water. “Before the floatation of the pound, production cost LE1.6 per cubic metre,” he stated.

Reda Eissa, an economist, said “the government should apply a partial subsidy system. That way, poorer segments of the population would pay less and higher-income strata, people who live in luxury housing compounds and the owners of golf courses, will pay more.”

Eissa said that non-refined water should routinely be used to water golf courses and gardens, “in order to decrease the costs of the HCWW in producing drinking water.”

Raslan said the latest price increases would lead people to rationalise their consumption. “People in the first and second tiers will not be much affected by the price rises, but those who own gardens and swimming pools will. The increases will make them think twice about their consumption,” he said.

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