Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte said the majority of the debt owed to the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) is from residential customers. He said this accounted for more than 80 per cent on the debt with Government’s billing to WASA being probably less than ten per cent.
Le Hunte was responding to a question in the Senate on Tuesday from Opposition Senator Wade Mark about the reported hundreds of millions of dollars owed to WASA and the TT Electricity Commission (T&TEC) by industrial customers and government ministries and departments.
He reported that WASA and T&TEC have adopted a multi-pronged approach regarding its receivables including: appointment of a special team within the commercial department dedicated to the recovery of debt from government agencies and industrial customers; and establishment of payment-arrangement plans with very large debtors, both private and public. He said in the case of WASA, a moratorium was given by the company to customers with outstanding bills to come in and regularise their situation.
The minister added, the Public Utilities ministry has been working closely with the Finance ministry to ensure adequate funding is made available in 2020 to the respective state agencies and ministries. This, he said, will ensure that those ministries and agencies meet their obligations to T&TEC and WASA “so that undue pressure is not placed on the two public utilities in terms of cash flow.”
Le Hunte said the Finance ministry is also supplementing WASA’s annual subvention, where necessary, and is in the process of finalising a US $100 million loan to allow WASA to clear arrears of payments to Desalcott for desalinated water and to allow WASA to have access to funding for future payments to Desalcott.
Mark asked who were the biggest debtors to WASA and T&TEC and Le Hunte replied for T&TEC the biggest debtor from a private sector perspective is Desalcott.
Mark then asked if Government owed T&TEC more than a billion dollars and Le Hunte replied that is not that amount, but he would have check to get the exact figure.