Vinh City Wastewater Utility Visits Soc Trang to Study on WW Tariff Issues

Created on 13 September 2011 Print Email

The Prime Minister’s Decree No. 88/2007/ND-CP stipulates the introduction of wastewater tariffs to be charged to wastewater service users in urban areas throughout Vietnam, that are sufficient in height to cover at least the costs for the operation and maintenance of existing wastewater installations. Accordingly, in July 2010, the People’s Council of Soc Trang province ratified the introduction of a wastewater tariff in Soc Trang city. After a year of preparations the wastewater utility of Soc Trang (Soc Trang Province Urban Public Works Company Ltd.) started with the actual wastewater tariff collection in June 2011.

The tariff introduction in Soc Trang can be seen as a direct result of the German engagement in supporting the city in wastewater management related issues since February 2005. So far, Soc Trang is not only the first out of the six provinces currently supported by German Development Cooperation, but also the first province throughout Vietnam, that took the necessary measures to implement the Prime Minister’s Decree, demonstrating that an implementation is actually possible provided the often quoted ‘willingness-to-charge’ is existent.

As a second partner within the German Waste Water and Solid Waste Management Programme, the wastewater utility of Vinh city (Nghe An province) is eager to lobby at urban and provincial authorities for a timely implementation of Decree 88 and the introduction of tariffs that will ease financial constraints and improve service delivery to customers. Supported by programme experts the preparation of a detailed tariff introduction proposal is currently on its way. The proposal shall later on be submitted to relevant authorities for ratification and approval.

In order to learn from the experiences made earlier in Soc Trang, seven representatives of the wastewater utility and the Urban Management Department of Vinh city paid a visit to the multi-ethnic city in the Mekong-Delta. The guests from the North were warmly received by Mr. Bui Thanh Tung, Vice-Manager of the Soc Trang Urban Management Department and Mr. Dang Thanh Binh and Mrs. Doan Thi Bich Nga, two Vice-Directors of Soc Trang’s utility. Throughout the meeting the hosts patiently answered the various questions their colleagues from Vinh came up with and explained in detail the various steps necessary to prepare for a successful introduction. Of course, not only success stories but also the various problems and drawbacks that the wastewater tariff pioneers in Soc Trang encountered, were shared openly in order for Vinh to learn from the experiences made in Soc Trang and not repeat the same mistakes.

The various topics discussed covered:

  • Acquisition of base data for tariff calculation,
  • A customer connection survey of all households in the city,
  • The development of a wastewater customer database that is regularly synchronized with the local water supply company’s customer data,
  • Financial and organizational arrangements for the fee collection,
  • Large-scale communication campaigns via mass media,
  • Workshops with key members of local mass organizations and authorities,
  • Resident meetings throughout the city to spread the word via flyers and ‘FAQ booklets’ and to clarify open questions of customers and get feedback on the local willingness-to-pay.

As was stressed by the hosts and attending project experts during the meeting, the most important success factor for the introduction of tariffs is a ‘positive’ attitude of local government representatives who are willing to charge the customers. Only the pro-active support of the idea by the province’s chairman, the party secretary and other high-ranking decision-makers as well as the very good relations between the wastewater utility and these leaders have made Soc Trang to the role model that it is today regarding the implementation of Decree 88.

The delegates from Vinh very much appreciated the open exchange with their colleagues and will carry the gained information and material back to Vinh for further investigation and the preparation of activities in a similarly unwavering manner.

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