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Water company in a bigger mess

The issue of accountability at the government-owned Water and Sewerage Department (W&SD)appears worse than initially brought to public attention.

Last month, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith said central government owed the department an ‘estimated’ $3.4 million up to March 31 this year.

He is now revealing that statutory bodies owned by Government also owe the department ‘approximately’ $1,687,939.

Like he did last month in relation to central government’s debt, Premier Smith is now indicating that Water and Sewerage Department doesn’t know exactly how much money is owed by statutory bodies.

Leader of the Opposition Andrew Fahie, during a sitting of the House of Assembly this month, requested the names of the statutory bodies owing.

The premier declined to name them, adding: “While the Water and Sewerage Department has indicated that there are amounts outstanding for some of the statutory bodies, given the challenges experienced by the Department over the years in relation to meter reading and billing, I would like for the Department to complete the reconciliation exercise…before I provide a definitive answer to this House on any amounts outstanding; as the department has indicated that there are a number of bills in dispute.”

The Opposition leader further asked why the statutory bodies are in arrears. Based on the premier’s response, the Water and Sewerage Department appears to be accepting blame.

“Some of the issues noted by the Water and Sewerage Department that may have contributed to the development of the arrears [by statutory bodies] included entities not receiving their bills due to difficulties experienced in printing the bills, as well as in the delivery of bills. Also, several agencies currently have existing queries on the amounts billed that the Department is trying to address,” Premier Smith said.

He continued: “The Department is currently undergoing various reforms in relation to its operations, including reconciling its billing and sourcing new meters which should make for more accurate and timely billing, and minimize the number of discrepancies currently being reported by its customers.”

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