The rural poor are unlikely to be negatively affected by Water Utilities Corporation tariffs.
The fears were allayed by Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, at a press conference on Monday.
Since Government introduced wide sweeping reforms in the water sector, which saw Water Utilities Corporation take over the roles traditionally performed by the Department of Water Affairs, people in the rural areas feared water prices were likely to spike significantly.
Minister Kedikilwe said all must pay for the provision of water.
He, however, made it clear that Government will move in to subsidise those who cannot pay.
He would not go into specifics as a study on water tariffs has still to be concluded at the end of this year.
“The government will appoint a regulator who will conduct an independent assessment in terms of international best practice in the quality of water provided and look at the extent to which the poor can afford the water tariffs,” Kedikilwe said in response to a question.
Kedikilwe disclosed that government has realized over P100 million as revenue generated from VAT charged consumers by the Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) for the provision of the basic necessity of life.
He said P53 million was realized last year while P62 million was realized as at March this year.
The Water Sector Reforms is a sequel to the National Water Master Plan review of 2006.
The review noted that it was hard to tell who was accountable for what in water service provision due to uneven levels of service for various consumers throughout the country and that it was impossible to ensure universal access to piped water by 2016.
Kedikilwe said the review recommended a reform of the water sector in a bid to meet the current and future water challenges, among them to align the sector’s organization with the Botswana of today, promote and achieve water use, achieve sustainable Institutional Framework and lower the cost of water delivery.
Under the Water Sector Reforms Project, WUC is to take over water and waste water in the country. The Minister said WUC, the Department of Water Affairs, unions and local authorities are to participate in decisions on recruitment. This will see WUC lowering qualifications to absorb as many employees as possible with government absorbing excess staff while other employees may be offered early exit packages as a last resort.
Customers are to sign Water Supply Agreements with WUC.