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[box] It is not news to those who follow developments at European level the change in pricing of all water usages imposed at present by the EU All these decisions were taken since the adoption of Directive 2000/60. Nor is it news the amazement and sometimes discomfort,of Greek politicians when it comes to the implementation of policies decided by Brussels. Regardless of the correctness of a decision or the imposition of private interests behind several policies, this discomfort, is an indication of how far Greek politicians are in reality (and by expansion Greek citizens) to the decision makers. At the time of policy implementation we witness again and again the deconstruction of EU’ democratic facade.[/box]
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Article written by Argyris Demertzis at Eleytherotypia (translated by SAVEGREEKATER)
A spectacular change on water invoicing is under way while at the same time the door opens for the complete reform of the pricing of domestic, agricultural and industrial water use, (taken into account that private interests are to enter the public water services sector).
The Ministry of Environment issued an amendment in the House of Parliament in a great hurry in order to avoid, on last minute, the imposing of new high fines by EU for non-compliance with EU Water Directive while it has already been convicted by the European court of Justice on April 2012 for the same issue.
The amendment signed by Deputy Environment Minister S. Kalafatis provides on one hand expediting procedures of final approval on management plans for water resources in twelve water districts of the country, as the last ultimatum Brussels had posed, expired by the end of 2012, and on the other hand implements by the Ministry of Environment the new rules of costing and control of water pricing, rules (for all E.U countries) . This means that in future the control and the decision in the exercise of pricing of all water & irrigation bodies will be centrally performed.
The water management plans, which now come into effect, show deviation between the actual cost and pricing of water as it is done up to now. More specifically:
In agriculture, which uses 80% of the available water resources, it is clear that irrigation water is charged only 10% to 15% of the actual cost. The issue will be discussed on government decisions in conjunction with the dismal economic situation facing local organizations of landed improvements ( TOEB) covering irrigation throughout. Of course any increase in the price of irrigation water would be burdensome for farmers and the cost of products, amid the crisis. Furthermore, reactions occur in plans concerning that water for irrigation of crops will not be charged, as up till now , with prices per acre and per crop, but taking into account the volume of consumption while mandatory water meters which are to be installed in fields.
In Athens and Thessaloniki, for domestic use, the studies on which the water management resources are based indicate that the costing of water supply and sanitation companies of the two metropolitan complexes (ie EYDAP and EVATH) is around the same level as the actual cost , but with a large difference. The cost of tasks and maintenance of networks of companies is not included as required by the new way of costing. Competent sources estimate that considering the privatization of EYDAP and EYATH promoted by the government,it should get determined on the terms of the notice of the relevant competitions what will be the fate of fixed infrastructure. Note that so far the state supports multi billion projects in these companies and their eventual privatization may mean that this huge cost will be passed to the customers by the private corporations.
In the region, the studies show that domestic water use is charged at 30% to 40% of the actual cost. The issue is associated with the announced economic reconstruction of the 180 Municipal companies for Water Supply and Sanitation (DEYA) of the region, which are, almost all, facing major economic problems.
The real cost
* For industrial water, both in major cities and in the region, there are also deviations from the actual cost. And in this case, any decisions are difficult, as they are related to the business competitiveness and cost of their products and in many cases their future survival is in question.
Changing the way of water pricing does not automatically means increases in water tariff. The significant change is that the state centrally will know for every single use and in any case the real cost of water. The cost of coverage will be a political decision, as well up to what extent this cost will be undertaken by the State or the consumers.
However, the new way of pricing of water, as defined by EU Directive on water (2000/60/EC), which is incorporated into Greek law (Law 3199/2003 and Presidential Decree 51/2007) provides: “The costing and then the pricing of water is formed by the use and the water adequacy, the balance of supply and demand, the cost recovery services, the depreciation and the financing of infrastructure networks, as well as environmental criteria, based on the principle of “the polluter pays”, addressing water as an irreplaceable natural resource.