Treated sewage effluent initiative aims to ease water shortages
Treated sewage effluent initiative aims to ease water shortages
“The TSE initiative is essentially designed to address the challenges of water shortages across Saudi Arabia, protect the natural groundwater resources, reduce wastewater discharge in the valleys, and develop new infrastructure,” said CEO Loay Al-Musallam.
He made these remarks as he opened a symposium on “Innovative Water Solutions for a Challenging Future,” as part of the fourth annual NWC Focus Day 2012 at the Jeddah Hilton.
The TSE project’s revenue is estimated to peak at SR 1.5 billion by 2016 and it will further increase to SR 10 billion by 2020, said Al-Musallam.
“The TSE initiative is essentially designed to address the challenges of water shortages across Saudi Arabia, protect the natural groundwater resources, reduce wastewater discharge in the valleys, and develop new infrastructure,” he said.
According to Al-Musallam, NWC held 14 agreements with local private companies, in addition to international companies in this connection.
“NWC through the business Development Department has been successful in improving the sale of the TSE and creating investment opportunities for the private sector in the field to construct new treatment plants with the purpose of increasing the overall capacity of treating domestic wastewater,” he said.
“We signed a long-term program under the sale, rehabilitate, operate and transfer contract with a national company where the private partner will purchase TSE from NWC,” he added.
“NWC will introduce more opportunities to the private sector with the advance of privatization,” said the CEO.
NWC will continue to grow its operations locally as well as regionally by creating multiple vehicles and leveraging its current knowledge base and platform,” he said.
Al-Musallam stressed that NWC will facilitate the integration of foreign companies in the local market and play a major role in the introduction of the latest technology and innovative solutions to the region.
“We had started the execution of massive water and wastewater projects in Makkah, Riyadh, Taif and Jeddah. At a combined cost of SR 36 billion, these projects are meant to create enormous improvements in this sector,” he said.
Abdullah Saleh Al-Hagbani, director corporate project at NWC, told Arab News that planning was under way for developing the infrastructure in four major cities.
“Augmenting supply of water was a top priority this year as the company commenced the execution of Strategic Storage projects in the major cities. This would create an additional storage capacity under the FIDIC contracts. Also, project delays have been significantly reduced, from the highest in 2008 of 104 projects down only to 5 projects toward the end of 2012,” he said.
“Furthermore, toward the 3rd quarter of 2012, NWC commenced the execution of multiple projects such as water purification stations, well-diggings and extending the existing water pipelines in Riyadh. These projects will expand capacities to discharge 200,000 cubic meters of potable water daily at an estimated cost of SR 1.6 billion. The aim of this project is to reduce water shortage in Riyadh, where it will be completed by the end of March 2013,” he added.
Abdullah bin Ali Al-Assaf, director general of Jeddah Business Unit, said that water desalination and water saving were the main two concerns of NWC in the coming year.
“Such projects are needed in Jeddah to reduce the waste of water from 18 percent to 5 percent. The project costing SR 150 million will have a total of one million cubic meter capacity,” he said.
According to Al-Assaf, NWC also started executing the world’s biggest combined wastewater treatment and power generation plant called ‘Jeddah airport 2’ with a treatment capacity of over 500,000 500 cubic meters daily costing around SR 1 billion.
The main component of this integrated project is connecting to 132,000 houses by the end of 2015.
Jordanian cabinet approves new IMF-guided tax law to boost finances
AMMAN: Jordan’s cabinet on Monday approved major IMF-guided proposals that aim to double the income tax base, as a key part of reforms to boost the finances of a debt-burdened economy hit by regional conflict.
“When only 4 percent of Jordanians pay (personal) income tax, this may not be the right thing,” Finance Minister Omar Malhas said in remarks after the cabinet meeting, adding the goal was to push that to eight percent. The draft legislation was submitted to parliament.
The IMF’s three-year Extended Fund Facility program aims to generate more state revenue to gradually bring down public debt to 77 percent of GDP in 2021, from a record 95 percent.
A few months ago Jordan raised levies on hundreds of food and consumer items by unifying general sales tax (GST) to 16 percent — removing exemptions on many basic goods.
In January subsidies on bread were ended, doubling some prices in a country with rising unemployment and poverty among its eight million people.
The income tax move and the GST reforms will bring an estimated 840 million dinars ($1.2 billion) in extra annual tax revenue that will help reduce chronic budget shortfalls normally covered by foreign aid, officials say.
Corporate income tax on banks, financial institutions and insurance companies will be pushed to 40 percent from 30 percent. Taxes on Jordan’s phosphate and potash mining industry will be raised to 30 percent from 24.
The government argues the reforms will reduce social disparities by progressively taxing high earners while leaving low-paid public sector employees largely untouched.
“This is a fair tax law not an unfair one,” said Malhas, who shrugged off criticism the law is lenient on many businesses connected to politicians whose transactions are not subject to tax scrutiny.
Husam Abu Ali, the head of the Income and Sales Tax Department, said a proposed IMF-recommended Financial Crime Investigations Unit will stiffen penalties for tax evaders. Critics say it will not tackle pervasive corruption in state institutions.
Abu Ali said the government could be losing hundreds of millions of dollars through tax evasion, which is as high as 80 percent in some companies.
The amendments lower the income tax threshold and raise tax rates. Unions said the government was caving in to IMF demands and squeezing more from the same taxpayers.
“It is penalizing a group that has long paid what it owes the state,” the unions syndicate said in a statement.
“It imposes injustice on employees whose salaries have barely coped with price hikes rising madly in recent years.”