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China to Raise Water Prices Gradually
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To permit China to achieve its water conservation goals the price of the resource will go up but in a gradual and affordable way, said Qiu Baoxing, the vice Minister of Construction.


"The country's reform of the water pricing system cannot be accomplished through one action as each area has its own issues and conditions," Qiu said. His words were reported by Xinhua News Agency Monday.


"China is feeding 21 percent of the global population with 7 percent of the earth's freshwater," Qiu said Sunday while he emphasized the importance of conserving supplies. "China is experiencing rapid developments in industrialization and this trend may continue for 30 years. If it does we’ll have to face more serious problems in water use and supply," Qiu commented.


However, the water fee would only cover 20 percent of the cost of the supply which was far from that of developed countries, Qiu said.


Price increases were an efficient way to help cut water consumption but other measures like increasing efficiency, breaking the monopoly on supplies and raising the quality of drinking water would also help, he said. "Hearings must be held before price hikes are issued to ensure the public benefit," Qiu added.


Shanghai, a large water consumer, plans to increase its water fees in the second half of this year to pay for water infrastructure construction projects, said a previous report. The preliminary plan calls for an average increase of around 1 yuan (12 US cents) per cubic meter which would be the biggest rise in recent years, the report observed.


(Shanghai Daily September 12, 2006)

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