Huge water tariff surges in northern Pakistan following prolonged price stagnation

Global Water Intelligence (GWI) recently released Global Water Tariff Survey 2023 has reported staggering tariff increases in northern Pakistan. 

As a result of a blanket regional adjustment in the Punjab province aiming to address rising energy costs, water consumers in northern Pakistan are grappling with water tariff increases. In an unprecedented move, this has reportedly led to tariff hikes affecting cities in the region.

According to the survey, all cities in Punjab, along with Islamabad, have experience record-breaking tariff increases this year. Punjab witnessed an average tariff surge of 213% across the state, with Lahore — where water tariffs had remained unchanged since 2004 — bearing the most significant impact with a staggering 591.9% increase. In the city with the smallest increase, Gujranwala, tariffs also surged by 76.1%.

In Punjab, tariff rates are calculated based on the plot size of each household. The tariff increases reported in the Global Water Tariff Survey pertain to plot sizes ranging from 126-177m2, the third smallest category. For the two smallest plot size categories, the Punjab government is subsidising water rates, reducing them by half. Although there have been some protests, the government is said to expect more pushback.

Despite the substantial tariff hikes after no change for decades, water tariffs in Punjab remain low at US$0.12/m3. This figure is below the global average of $2.36 for water tariffs.

The Global Water Tariff Survey 2023 report underscores the impact of global inflation on water tariffs. As cities worldwide navigate economic uncertainties, infrastructure demands, and evolving consumer attitudes, the water tariff landscape remains in a state of constant flux.

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