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Wed 30 Mar 2016 10:26 AM

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Water bills too expensive? Dig a well, says Saudi minister

Abdullah Al Hussayen makes comment after rising number of complaints from public

Water bills too expensive? Dig a well, says Saudi minister
Saudi Arabia’s Water and Electricity Minister Abdullah Al Hussayen. (HASSAN AMMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia’s Water and Electricity Minister has told consumers that they should apply for permits to dig wells if they are unhappy over the rising cost of their water bills.

Arab News reported that Abdullah Al Hussayen had made the suggestion after an increased number of complaints from members of the public.

Earlier this month, the same newspaper reported a surge of complaints to the National Water Company, with many claiming their water tariffs had doubled since the Finance Ministry said it would adjust subsidised prices for petrol, water and electricity in December.

The minister also said that there had been a poor response from the public with regard to several awareness campaigns about water rationing.

Despite its arid climate, Saudi Arabia has one of the highest average rates of water consumption in the world, helped by subsidies that have kept the cost of the resource to consumers at near zero.

In December, Al Hussayen said that higher bills would not affect poorer parts of Saudi society.

“The new tariffs are aimed at those segments of society who extensively consume water and electricity,” he told local media.

“For example, 250 litres of water consumption per day will cost SR92 [$25] per month with the new tariff, and this is reasonable. We sincerely hope that with the new prices, people will start conserving water,” he said.

Al Hussayen also said that only 13 percent of bills issued this year would be affected by the new tariffs.

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