MAYARO MP Rushton Paray is criticising a decision by the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) to refer its debtors to a credit-collection agency.
In a statement on Thursday, Paray referred to a newspaper report which said WASA had engaged the services of Credit Chex. He described the decision as callous.
Paray claimed this could result in paying customers having their water supplies discontinued arbitrarily. He did not explain how.
"It would also lead to customers who have been without supply for months being made to pay for a nonexistent service instead of being provided with the precious commodity."
Paray said while WASA has a serious cash-flow problem, "The collection of debt must be guided by a watertight list of debt receivables and by management competence and professionalism."
He added that WASA should be focusing on fixing its books, improving its distribution system, and repairing damaged water mains and roads.
In response, Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales said, "The vast majority of our citizens are educated and well informed, and they will ignore the populist stunt being played by my dear friend from Mayaro."
He dismissed Paray's claim about about WASA arbitrarily discontinuing the water supply of paying customers.
"I don't get it. I can't see how paying customers will be unduly worried about the authority's debt-collection efforts."
Gonzales said while he respects Paray as an individual, there is a difference in the views an opposition and a government take on issues.
"The benefit of being in opposition is that it is easy to take populist positions to give the impression of caring for the citizens.
"In government, decisions have to be taken for the benefit of all the citizens and sometimes that may mean taking action that may offend some segment of the population."
Referring to Paray's background in the private sector, Gonzales said, "As an astute businessman, MP Paray is well aware that there is a direct correlation between cash flows and the ability to provide a service, especially a critical service of water supply."
He said he was certain Paray is aware that if WASA improves its financial performance, "this will redound to an improvement in service levels to customers."
This, he said, also includes Paray's constituents.
"If he (Paray) truly believes in his statement, is he willing to also abandon his calls and pleas for better service, especially when Mayaro is set to benefit from a major investment to improve supply to the citizens there?"