HÀ NỘI — Hà Nội’s top leader has criticised the city’s finance director for making a “fundamentally wrong” statement about an unusually high tap water price which sparked a protest from residents last month.
The city People’s Committee chairman Nguyễn Đức Chung told a hearing of the municipal People’s Council on Wednesday that tap water issue was a matter many Hanoians cared greatly about.
“I asked the Hà Nội finance department director at a work meeting of the city government on November 29 to seriously look back at and learn from his fundamentally wrong statement that cause misunderstanding among the citizens,” he said.
Chung was referring to an announcement by finance department director Nguyễn Việt Hà claiming that 20 per cent of the price of water produced by the new Đuống River Water Plant was actually to pay for the interest of loans the investor made to build the plant.
It implied residents had to pay VNĐ2,003 (8 US cents) out of every VNĐ10,246 per cu.m e just to cover the investor’s bank loans.
According to Hà, the total investment of the water plant reached nearly VNĐ5 trillion ($217.3 million), 80 per cent of which the investor borrowed from the bank.
Such news triggered public outcry, especially with the water price of the Đuống River plant already double that of the Đà River plant at VNĐ5,000 per cu.m.
Chung on Wednesday denied Hà’s figures, saying there were five elements taken into account to determine the water price.
“First is the production cost for a cu.m of water. Second is the cost for water transfer. Third is the administrative expense. Fourth is 5 per cent of (loan’s) interest rate. And fifth is 25 per cent for potential water loss,” he said.
He said city authorities strictly followed prevailing regulations and no changes were made in the way the city calculated the price of tap water.
Chung said the increased water price of the Đuống River plant was only an “estimated price” agreed by the city and the investor so the project could be established and carried out.
Hà Nội also made such an agreement with the investor of the Hồng River surface water plant with the estimated water price of VNĐ10,365 per cu.m, he added.
“They were just prices to set up the projects,” the chairman said, implying the current water price of the Đuống River plant was yet to be fixed.
The Đuống River water plant – the largest of its kind in the northern region – began operation in September 2019 with total capacity reaching 300,000 cu.m daily.
Rural clean water
The Hà Nội chairman on Wednesday also discussed municipal authorities’s efforts to supply clean water to residents in suburban areas.
According to Chung, Hà Nội until 2015 had set up 109 projects under the management of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to bring clean water to rural areas. They mainly involved digging wells and so far only six were working well, he said. Many others could only supply unfiltered water.
The city had called for investment from the private sector which later resulted in 38 clean water projects being carried out by 23 investors, he said.
“With (the city’s) great determination, we haven’t encountered a clean water shortage this year,” he said.
“In fact, up to 75 per cent of rural residents have been supplied with urban water in 2019. A Hà Nội Party resolution, meanwhile, only set the goal of 50 per cent of rural residents having access to water at urban standards by 2020.”
The official said city authorities hastened the rural clean water programme due to their wish to provide quality water to residents for the sake of their health. — VNS
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