Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad says the Rewa River Viria Water project has been a major investment and we will see major improvements in water supply after the full commissioning of the project.
He says the project is expected to be completed by the end of July with full commissioning expected by October this year.
While announcing the budget, Professor Prasad says the government is allocating $51.2 million for the completion of this project, the total cost of the project is approximately $400 million but US$31 million is funded by the Investment Bank and the Green Climate Fund.
Professor Prasad says poor maintenance and upgrade of our existing water infrastructure has resulted in 47 percent of treated water getting lost along the pipeline due to leakage and this has caused major intermittent water supplies across Fiji however, in the last few months, some major improvements have been seen as water disruptions have been reduced.
He says the new Water Authority of Fiji Board has hit the ground running, with a clear mandate to get things done.
The Deputy Prime Minister says they are scaling up their investment in the water sector with an increased budget of $250.8 million and this year they will put a quarter billion dollars into the water system.
He says this is a major increase of almost $60 million compared to the current budget which includes $118.1 million in operating expenditures and $132.7 million for capital expenditure.
Professor Prasad further says $53.9 million is allocated to improve water sources and implement new disaster-resilient infrastructure, including water treatment facilities with a focus on reducing leakages, $6.4 million to improve wastewater operations, and $4.8 million allocated for asset management within the Water Authority.
He says $4.6 million is allocated, for the digital transformation in the water sector which will help manage water disruptions whereas $3.8 million is allocated for emergency response in the event of water disruption.
The Finance Minister says they are also allocating $7.9 million to focus on improving access to water supplies in rural areas which has been neglected for some time.
He says given the magnitude of the challenge we have in the water sector, it's going to take time and cost over $500 million to replacement the 40-year-old pipe system which is leaking underground however, they are working with the Asian Development Bank for a major institutional revamp of the Water Authority, including governance, investment planning, asset management, infrastructure replacement, and upgrade, review of water tariffs, investment in our people and improving customer service management.
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