Mozambique: Government Alters Water Prices

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Maputo — The Mozambican government announced on Tuesday that it is altering the tariffs charged for drinking water, by both public and private suppliers - but declined to say how much the new tariff will be.

Speaking to reporterS at the end of the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), the government spokesperson, Deputy Justice Minister Filimao Suaze, said the new tariffs seek to ensure the availability of water, in quantity and quality, and to guarantee continuity in the provision of services to consumers.

"There is an equation which is always used to determine payment, and with this revision it is intended to update the tariff", he said. He claimed that water tariffs are reviewed on an annual basis.

He refused to shed any light on how much consumers will have to pay under the new tariffs, but stressed the tariffs take into account the need "not to suffocate citizens who do not have enough income to pay their water bills".

The tariff, Suaze added, should allow continued public and private investment in the water supply systems, and avoid compromising the quality and quantity of water supplied.

He said the tariffs will relieve the pressure on the state budget, and support the less sustainable water systems. Altering the tariffs also seeks to expand the coverage of the water supply network, in line with the government objective to ensure that the entire population receives clean drinking water.

Suaze said the new tariffs "are not a secret", but he did not tell the journalists what they are.

Increasing the price of water is likely to be an extremely unpopular move, especially since wages have not risen for two years. The annual rise in the minimum wage was cancelled in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Consultative Labour Commission, which is the tripartite negotiating forum between the government, the trade unions, and the employers is scheduled to meet in June, and should decide whether to resume the minimum wage negotiations.

The Council of Ministers also fixed the minimum producer prices for raw cotton for the current marketing season. Farmers should be paid a minimum of 25 meticais (about 42 US cents at current exchange rates) per kilo of first grade cotton, and 18 meticais a kilo for second grade.

This confirms the consensus reached last week at a meeting in the northern province of Nampula between the Agriculture Ministry, and representatives of the cotton producers, and of the companies that purchase the raw cotton.

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