Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) has recorded a 15 percent increase in the number of customers that have been honouring their obligation to pay their bills. And this has been a significant plus for the water company as according to Minister of Housing and Water, Irfaan Ali, last year the entity was merely able to collect approximately 50 percent of the total billings sent out to customers.
“I am happy to relate to you that we have been able to increase that to 65 percent of the total billing,” the Minister said, recently.
The improved percentage of customers’ payment has now allowed GWI to achieve its target in terms of billing for 2009 but not in terms of collection.
According to Ali, revenue collection continues to be an area of great concern for the company in terms of getting customers to understand the importance of paying for the water as well as the importance of conservation.
One of the most overwhelming challenges in this regard, Ali said, is that there is a large percentage of private consumers who are not paying their bills.
“A lot of our collection would have been Government agencies and institutions that are paying their bills. We still need to let the people know that paying for water is priority in terms of expenditure planning.”
He related that it is unsustainable for the operation of the water entity to continue as it currently produces more water than is required per person per day according to international standards.
For this reason, he disclosed that next year GWI will focus more on education with a view of sensitising the public on the use and the ways in which they can help to conserve water.
As part of this effort, Ali said that his Ministry has commenced negotiations with the Ministry of Agriculture to have water conservation techniques and methods incorporated in the school curriculum at the Primary Level. And this move he noted is an important aspect in the work of the Housing and Water Ministry next year.
However, he noted that one of the primary issues that has been raised by customers during outreach activities this year was the fact that there has been inaccurate billings in some instances.
In acknowledging difficulties in this regard, the Minister divulged that efforts are being made to audit and examine the system to see where GWI can improve to ensure that accurate bills are sent out to customers.
As a result, it is expected that there will be an improved billing system coupled with more reading of water meters on a consistent basis next year.
The aim, the Minister said is to have meters read at least every quarter on a 100 percent basis which will remove the need to have an estimated reading.
In the meantime, Ali revealed that the internal controls of GWI have been reviewed in the various functional areas, a move which has served to bolster the anti-fraud and corruption policy.
He noted that the anti-fraud policy which was rolled out this year is an integral part of management culture hence is a part of the organisational culture.
“We have had numerous workshops with various stakeholders in the private sector, not only staff…the Manufacturers’ Association and our suppliers on the various procedures, guidelines and bidding systems of GWI and this will continue to be a feature of the organisation in 2010.”
Further, Minister Ali related that community oriented initiatives, the likes of Camp Resolution are expected to be reshaped and expanded in the New Year in order to have continuous and direct reach to the public.
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