Water prices in Hanoi will rise by as much as 30 percent from next month following a proposal by the Department of Finance.

A meeting of the city's People's Committee last week was told that the price for the first 10 cubic metres will increase to 4,797 VND (0.22 USD), up 19.93 percent.

Prices for 10-20 cubic metres, 20-30 cubic metres and above 30 cubic metres will be set at 5,607, 6,979 and 12,212 VND for one cubic metre of water used respectively.

Water charges for business and services will increase by 34 percent to 14,137 VND (0.67 USD) per cubic metre.

Head of the municipal Department of Finance's pricing section Vuong Thi Thu Hang said that the increases are the first since 2010.

"We have studied the expenses for water supply since April and found that input costs have risen due to higher power costs, taxes for natural resources and new fees for environmental protection, hygiene and safety."

She said the increase will not greatly affect hotels, which spend only 0.023-0.039 percent of their expenses on water.

Hang said that even with the increases, Hanoi will still have low water prices compared to neighbouring Hai Phong city, Hai Duong and Quang Ninh provinces, where water prices have already reached 6,200-6,500 VND.

In HCM City , the lowest price was 5,300 VND per cubic metre for those who used less than four cubic metres.

Director of the Hanoi Water Company Nguyen Nhu Hai said that for the past three years, higher expenses for providing water have led to his company making losses.

"The losses caused difficulties in company activities as well as affecting people's access to clean water," he said, adding that at present only 52 percent of citizens in the capital city enjoy what can be called clean water.

According to the company's calculation, the increase will make little difference to households that use less than 10 cubic metres a month.

Nguyen Thi Hai, a resident in Cau Giay district's Nghia Do ward, said her family pays about 100,000 VND a month for water.

"With the new price, we will have to pay an extra 19,000 VND, which is not much," she said, "What I really care about is whether the quality of the water will also improve."

Hai said water pipes need regular checking to make sure they are not old and do not add to water pollution.

“With the increase in water prices, we will still lose more than 185 billion VND (8.8 million USD) for the next few years," said Director of the Hanoi Water Company Nguyen Nhu Hai.

He urged local authorities to tighten regulations so that apartment owners did not take advantage of the increase to demand more money than necessary from tenants. He said this has happened many times before.

Prices are scheduled to increase again in October next year.-VNA