Cash-strapped Rio to privatise water utility

2017-02-20 20:17
Demonstrators in Rio de Janeiro throw rocks at riot police during a protest against the privatisation of the state’s water and sewerage company. (File, AP)

Demonstrators in Rio de Janeiro throw rocks at riot police during a protest against the privatisation of the state’s water and sewerage company. (File, AP)

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Rio de Janeiro - Legislators for financially strapped Rio de Janeiro state voted on Monday to approve privatisation of the public water utility despite a strike by workers and threats of protests.

The state assembly passed the authorisation to put the water and sewerage company, known as Cedae, up for sale by 41 to 28 votes.

For Rio, which six months after hosting the Olympics is unable even to pay public salaries fully, the sale is a condition of receiving a federal loan of about $1.13bn.

The state and city of Rio, which splurged on now mostly unused stadiums and costly transport improvements before the Olympics, are all but bankrupt.

The crisis, which has seen hospitals run out of equipment and police go on strike over unpaid salaries, is also partly due to the downturn in the oil industry, which has a major presence in Rio.

However, the idea of putting Cedae up for sale has been controversial.

Protesting employees and riot police have been in violent confrontations twice in the last few weeks, although a demonstration outside the assembly building on Monday was so far peaceful.

Read more on:    brazil  |  water

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