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Water: public agrees need to raise price

ALTHOUGH residents support a rise in the price of water, the rate suggested was more than expected, according to a hearing yesterday.

The Shanghai Development and Reform Commission made two proposals on water pricing earlier this month.

In one, prices would be raised to 2.8 yuan (US$41 cents) per cubic meter. In the other, a graduated system would be introduced under which residents would pay 2.61 yuan per cubic meter for the first 15 cubic meters used in a month. The charge would rise to 3.92 yuan for amounts over 15 cubic meters and to 5.22 yuan for more than 25 cubic meters.

Views of public

The present water price is 1.84 yuan for the first 15 cubic meters used in a month, and 1.93 yuan for amounts in excess of 15 cubic meters.

Yesterday's hearing was to hear the views of the public.

The price rise was necessary because local water companies, the commission said, suffered a deficit of about 460 million yuan last year and this year their costs would increase by some 552 million yuan so they could improve services and ensure a safe supply of water.

A total of 20 residents expressed views about water prices yesterday. Most preferred the first proposal, as they believed it was easy to operate, and more reasonable.

Chen Meiqin, a representative from the Shanghai Federation of Trade Unions, said many needy families were extended families who may use more water. Therefore, the second proposal would be beyond their economic ability.

Zhao Jiaoli, a representative from the Shanghai Commission of Consumers' Rights and Interests Protection, urged keeping price rises to 25 to 30 percent in the first proposal. As for the second, the minimum charging standard should be 20 to 25 cubic meters rather than 15 cubic meters.

"Water companies should consider saving on management costs," she said.

Water quality was also discussed at the hearing. Representatives said most Shanghai people drank pure water or bottled water.

The water companies pledged to spend the extra income from increased water bills on improving tap water quality and waste water collection and operation.

The commission said the final proposal and the timing of the price rise were yet to be decided.


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