Annual investments necessary for water supply and channeling aren’t possible with current prices, too low to secure funds, representatives of the World Bank told Serbian authorities. At a meeting this week in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (PKS), organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection and Republic Water Directorate, they said the tariffs must not be a part of social policy, Blic portal reported.
“You must invest between EUR 200 million and EUR 300 million if you want to meet European Union’s demands,” said David Michaud, the international financing institution’s senior water and sanitation specialist. Participants at the event revealed Serbia plans to adopt a water management strategy until 2034 before the end of the year. The document envisages investment of EUR 8.5 billion with the economic price of up to EUR 1.35 per cubic metre, compared to as low as EUR 0.41 in some municipalities at the moment.
Serbia currently allocates, on local and state level, between EUR 100 million and EUR 150 million per year in the sector. It is not the poorest country in the region, but it has one of the lowest water prices, Michaud added. He said much more money is being invested in the EU and that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recommends a quota of 0.5% to 1% of gross domestic product, while that in Serbia it is 0.2 or 0.3%.
“The price of water of EUR 1.35 per cubic metre is planned to be reached in five to six years after the strategy is adopted. The increase will be gradual and not the same everywhere, but to get to the average level,“ said Slađana Milojković from Jaroslav Čarni Institute for the Development of Water Resources (JCI).