Gov’t Cuts Water Rates for Migrant Workforce

Following Prime Minister Hun Sen’s initiative to lower the cost of electricity for migrant workers, Phnom Penh’s water supplier Thursday set a new reduced water rate for workers and students living in rented rooms, officials said.

In an effort to prevent landlords from profiting off the resale of water, the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) and City Hall met Thursday to regulate how much landlords pay per cubic meter of water, and the rate at which they are expected to resell to their tenants.

“The PPWSA will sell one cubic meter of water for 1,030 riel [$0.25] and landlords can sell it to garment workers for 1,200 riel [$0.30],” said deputy municipal governor Khuong Sreng. “In the past the landlords set the price by themselves, at 2,000 [$0.50] or 2,500 [$0.62] riel.”

“We know landlords want to sell at a higher price, but now the water supply authority has put down the prices for them, so they must do the same for garment workers,” he said.

Mr. Sreng said the PPWSA and City Hall would create working groups to discuss a new payment scheme with landlords and to identify businessmen willing to become middlemen.

“We are looking for businessmen to set up water tanks and start selling water to workers at the new price,” Mr. Sreng said, adding that enforcement of the new rates would not be immediate.

“The PPWSA cannot work as fast as the electricity authority because the water tanks are harder to set up than the electricity meters,” he said.

Last week, the state-run Electricite du Cambodge (EdC) began the installation of electrical boxes to allow renters to pay their electricity bill directly to EdC, at a rate of between 610 and 820 riel ($0.15 to $0.20) per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

EdC director-general Keo Ratanak said last week that landlords were previously charging 2,500 riel (about $0.62) per kWh. EdC plans to spend some $2 million for 40,000 electrical boxes on rental rooms throughout the country.

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