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Public hearing washout over water price hike

2011-06-09 14:11

A public hearing into a price hike in tap water in a South China city may be postponed after residents snubbed the meeting in protest their views would not be considered.

The price bureau of Dongguan in South China's Guangdong province issued a bulletin on May 26 calling a public hearing over the price of the city's tap water, but no residents responded as of the June 7 deadline, the Yangcheng Evening News reported Wednesday.

The paper said the city's tap water price is expected to rise by 0.2 yuan per cubic meter, which the price bureau said would stop the water company loosing more than 50,000 yuan ($7,720) each day under the current price.

Niu Ren, a local resident who attended last year's public hearing over the price of water, said the meeting was used as a mere rubber stamp in which real public opinion would never be accepted.

"I would rather do something that has some value than waste time on the hearing," Niu said.

Deng Guoping, secretary-general of the Dongguan's consumers committee, said the price rise of tap water is an issue that every resident should face.

He added that the fact that no one applied to attend the public hearing indicates nothing apart from the consumers' ideas are quite immature, and their democratic thoughts need improvements.

Hou Li, professor from South China University of Technology, said the current public hearing system is not perfect and "to make a public hearing function, we need to perfect the system and take the attendants' interests into account."

"Public hearings should be carried out based on residents' interests and attendants' opinion should be heard to make people feel the procedure has real meaning to them," Hou said.

The price bureau said they may postpone the deadline to attend the hearing.

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