By Fostina Mkandawire
Lilongwe, Mana: Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources, Nancy Tembo, on Wednesday justified government’s decision to raise water tariffs, saying the hike will improve the water boards’ service delivery to the citizenry.
Tembo made the remarks in Lilongwe during a press briefing held jointly with Minister of Information and Lilongwe Water Board officials.
She said the water boards’ low tariffs were crippling their service delivery to the clients.
“We want to improve how things are done and our goal is to ensure that a larger number of the population has potable water,” she said.
The minister, however, emphasized that it was not government’s intention to raise water tariffs, but due to the growth in population and increase in the number of people applying for water connections that prompted water boards to come up with a bold decision to raise the tariffs.
Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) Chief Executive Officer, Silli Mbewe said during the press briefing that LWB’s tariffs had remained unrevised for three financial years.
He said this was despite the increasing cost of production and supply over the period which was negatively impacting on performance and operations of the water provision institution.
“In general, the main guiding principles that govern the process of tariff setting include financial sustainability, affordability, customer protection and also fair pricing,” he said.
The LWB CEO said financial sustainability of the water board was becoming exorbitant; therefore, they needed sufficient revenues to cover the cost of production and investment.
“Considering that water is life, the low consumers who, most of the times, happen to be poor households, are offered water at a price that is below the cost-of-service provision,” he said.
On this point, the CEO backed the water board’s decision to raise tariffs, arguing that despite hiking with 53 per cent, water remains affordable and subsidised.
On his part, Minister of Information, Gospel Kazako, said government was trying to put things in order though he was aware of the resistance along the way.
He said it was government’s wish to see that every home has potable water. He revealed, therefore, that from 1st April, 2022, water connection will be free to meet the campaign promises.