Pakistan News

Wasa to expand tax net

Wasa to expand tax net

RAWALPINDI: The Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) has collected Rs40 million from consumers within the first two months of this fiscal year, compared to their target of Rs50 million for this period.

A senior Wasa official told Dawn that the agency has improved its water charges collection, but was still behind the target.

The official said that 115,000 water consumers were within the agency’s tax net, including 10,000 commercial consumers, but that of the charges recovered were from domestic consumers.

He said Rs98 monthly is charged from houses of up to seven marlas in the city’s 46 union councils (UC). This is lower than the Rawalpindi Cantonment Board charges, which are over Rs250 per month.

The Punjab government provides Wasa a Rs200 million annual subsidy, to keep the agency from increasing its water charges.

“We have not increased water charges for eight years, which must be revised upward to improve the financial health of the agency,” the official said.

Wasa managing director Raja Shaukat Mehmood said agency paid the electricity bills of 365 tube wells from the subsidy it received from the government.

“The agency pays Rs265 million annually for electricity charges using the subsidy, and then there was no money left to improve the water supply in the city,” he said.

Mehmood said the agency was improving its recovery rate, and that instead of increasing water charges, is bringing more people within the tax net.

He said that under the new policy, Wasa did not close sever connections of defaulters — especially domestic consumers — and instead offers them incentives to pay their outstanding amount in easy installments, and also waives the surcharge.

“Wasa is working to give legal cover to illegal water connections of those who agree to pay water charges in the future,” Mehmood said.

He said that the bill recovery rate has increased following the new policy, and would continue to increase over the next month.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2015

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