By Staff writer
Public outcry over “soaring” water bills after subsidy changes this year
The Shura council in Saudi Arabia has called for a robust study into water consumption in the kingdom amid persistent claims that water bills are too high.
Public complaints to the National Water Company are understood to have surged this year since the Ministry of Finance announced in December it would adjust subsidised prices for petrol, water and electricity as part of the kingdom’s austerity measures.
Many people claimed their water tariffs had doubled in the ensuing months. Then, in March, water and electricity minister Abdullah Al Hussayen was sacked after suggesting that members of the public should “dig a well” if they were unhappy over the rising cost of their water bills.
According to a report in Saudi Gazette, Shura councillors have asked the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture to carry out a field study to assess the true level of water consumption by citizens and the costs involved.
The council also urged the ministry to postpone issuing invoices based on the new water tariffs until after citizens’ concerns have been addressed, the newspaper said.
Yahya Al Samaan, assistant president of the Shura council, was quoted as saying that the government must also conduct studies on water connectivity in the region to ensure water security to citizens.
Saudi Arabia’s new environment minister is reportedly working to produce a water tariff that will be “acceptable” to citizens aggrieved over rising costs.