Onus on gov'ts for affordable water

0 CommentsPrintE-mail China Daily, August 28, 2009
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People tend to believe water prices have risen in several cities because multinational companies are trying to monopolize water treatment and supply in China. But it doesn't seem foreign firms can do so because they hold a relatively low market share, says an article in the Beijing News. Excerpt:

Market economy, as a matter of rule, allows foreign companies to merge with or acquire not-so-successful domestic firms. Actually, multinationals have been taking over part of China's water treatment and supply business because local authorities want to make big money in the short term, without doing the hard work that comes with it.

As a public service, water treatment and supply should be regulated by the central government because it's part of national security. In practice, though, the right to fix water price lies with provincial - or even city or town - governments.

Often, their pricing mechanism is not transparent, and they issue vague explanations for raising the price of water.

Hence, we should not arbitrarily accuse foreign firms for the price hike and ignore the drawbacks of the local authorities. To provide clean and safe water at affordable rates, governments at various levels should perform their duty and explore effective measures to establish transparent pricing, supervision and auditing mechanisms for water treatment and supply.

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