President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on Wednesday, ratified the Water and Sewerage Act,
As per the bill, which was passed by the parliament on July 20, the government will establish a 'Utility Regulatory Authority' tasked with licensing of utility companies as their registrar, as well as the enforcement body to investigate and penalize companies that violate laws related to water and sewerage.
Deemed a fundamental right under the constitution, the decision is the first instance a regulatory legislature regarding the sector was implemented by the country
The authority is mandated to formulate a structure to subsidize water and sewerage services in a decentralized manner and to empower local councils, involving councils in assigning rates for services provided by the institution.
The body must also adopt measures to protect an island's freshwater lens, while providing solutions for low-income households to afford utility services.
Further, the authority is required to connect households to the water and sewerage grid, free of charge.
In 2017, the environment ministry had formulated a National Water Sewerage Policy, which aimed to increase access to water and sanitation services to over 85 percent of the country by 2018.
By the end of 2016, access to water with metered connections across the country stood at 41 percent, while access to sewerage systems stood at 48 percent.
The move is considered to overlap with the mandate of the Ministry of Environment, in regards to its enforcement abilities.