Tirana council approves increase in tap water price

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 28, 2017 09:49

Tirana council approves increase in tap water price

Story Highlights

  • Mayor argues increase needed to improve infrastructure, opposition call it ‘a theft scheme’

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TIRANA, July 27 – Tirana’s municipal council has approved a request by Mayor Erion Veliaj to increase the price of tap water in the Albanian capital by about 30 percent, with businesses seeing a higher increase than residential units.

The vote on a business plan that must be approved by the national water authority was tight, with Veliaj’s Socialist Party councilors joined by a few opposition councilors from smaller parties. The main opposition Democratic Party councilors walked out on the vote to express their displeasure.

“We now have the votes to supply Tirana with tap water 24/7,” Veliaj said. “Water for citizens is more important than political parties.”

Veliaj argued the money was needed to help the water supply company, which is owned by the municipality, to improve the infrastructure and make sure Tirana has a 24/7 supply of water people can drink straight out of the tap in the next five years.

The water price for households will increase to 65 leks per cubic meter, from the current 45 leks. A series of municipal taxes are also added on top of the water bill, which has increased substantially in recent years, raising the ire of some of the capital’s residents.

Veliaj said Tirana had had cheaper water than other municipalities around the country and the increase would not hurt citizens’ pockets too much.

However, there was resistance to the move from opposition members of the council, with Democratic Party representatives denouncing the move as “a money grab by Mayor Veliaj,” who they say is increasing the cost of living in the capital beyond what the common people can afford.

“We call on Tirana’s residents and businesses to protest against this theft scheme engineered by Mayor Erion Veliaj,” said Leonard Olli, leader of the Democratic Party in the Tirana Municipal Council.

His comments were echoed by DP leader Lulezim Basha, who also criticized councilors from two opposition parties for voting for the increase even though they had reservations.

“It’s the same group of captured and corrupt politicians who are merciless in extracting every cent out the people’s pockets,” Basha said.

The opposition Socialist Movement for Integration, which had two councilors split ranks to get the measure over the number of votes needed for approval of the increase, said there would be certain conditions before they could support the increase, including help for low-income families and small businesses that provide basics goods like bakeries. They added that a series of public hearings should be held.

SMI leader Monika Kryemadhi denied the party had agreed to the increase, saying the two councilors had voted without the permission of the party. The two were later expelled from SMI, the party said in a statement.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 28, 2017 09:49