Nov 24, 2012 News
…requests that GWI gets its act together
Officials of the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) were meticulously interrogated yesterday by officials of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) during a hearing at Hotel Tower, Main Street, Georgetown.
The move marks an initial step towards a revised tariff regime for the water company.
GWI anticipates that the revised regime could become effective by January 1, 2013. GWI’s proposal is expected to allow for categorizing customers, rates for consumers of treated and non-treated water, domestic and non-domestic rates, fixed charges, tariff bands for sewerage services,
security deposits and other ancillary matters.
However, yesterday’s hearing, which saw sparse attendance from stakeholders, did not last very long owing to a number of reasons, among them the fact that the GWI officials appeared not fully prepared to swiftly answer some of the questions put to them by the PUC officials.
This was despite the fact that GWI officials were fully armed with a 2012 Tariff Harmonisation Proposal which details the amendment of existing rates and establishing criteria for the application brought to the PUC.
The GWI team was made up of Director of Commercial Relations and Customer Service, Earle Aaron; Chief Executive Officer, Shaik Baksh; Chairman, Ramesh Dookhoo; Director of Finance, Jaigopaul Ram and Director of Operations, Joseph Coddette.
Although on the PUC’s side there was not a quorum, given the recent passing of John Caesar, it was aptly represented by its Chairman, Justice Prem Persaud; Commissioners Maurice Solomon and Badrie Persaud along with Financial Analyst, Mr. Marselene Sankar.
The PUC Chairman in an interview said, “…There are a lot of questions we have to ask and the atmosphere is not conducive.” He was alluding to the sound system in the hotel. It was not effective enough to allow for the respective speakers’ clear projection.
Further, the PUC Chairman was not impressed with the fact that when questions were asked of the GWI team the members were not always adequately prepared to give an instant answer.
“When you ask one person one question, then that person refers it to somebody else. They have to get their people together; they need three or four, who will come with specific answers…They have to get their acts together,” said Justice Persaud.
The hearing was adjourned less than an hour into the proceedings.
Justice Persaud said that the PUC would seek to write to GWI, as early as next week, a missive that will detail all of its questions concerning the GWI proposal.
“We should feel reasonably comfortable that GWI has the capacity to implement any increase in an efficient and seamless way before approving the tariff…We have to be satisfied,” asserted Justice Persaud.
However he noted that before an approval can be granted for implementation, GWI will first have to be heard. Against this background a new date for the hearing has been set for December 7, 2012, at the PUC Church Street, Georgetown, boardroom.
Following that hearing the PUC Chairman said that “once we get all the answers in two weeks we will issue a report which will be put to the public…”
Addressing the GWI’s preparation, the GWI Chairman, Dookhoo said, “I was disappointed with our inability to answer one particular question…” He was at the time referring to a question posed by the PUC as it relates to the benefits GWI would gain, should the tariff revision be approved.
Dookhoo however stated his optimism that the December hearing will prove to be a better opportunity for GWI to more effectively outline its proposal to the PUC as well as the public.
He made reference to the modest attendance yesterday adding that he was quite disappointed that more members of the public did not attend. Among those that were expected to be in attendance were the Regional Chairmen of a number of Regions.
Dookhoo however took pleasure in the fact that the major consumer bodies were in attendance, among them Ms Patricia Martindale of the Consumer Movement.
CEO Baksh said that the proposed tariff regime is one that would cater to an improved water delivery system. The system, according to him, has improved over the last five years but there is still more work to be done.
At the moment, Baksh said, GWI is faced with a number of challenges among which is the wastage of water and the failure on the part of some consumers to pay for the liquid.
According to the CEO the current tariff structure does not promote water conservation since unmetered customers pay a standard service charge regardless of the amount of water utilised.
“Conservation of our service is critical to its sustainability as well as reducing GWI’s energy cost…joining with the national movement for energy conservation this change to our current structure is vital,” he added.
The last time that GWI implemented a revised tariff change was in 2005.
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