People owing WASA money could find themselves facing debt collectors as the Water and Sewerage Authority is seeking to hire a company to retrieve the $700M plus that is owed to the company. Minister of Public Utilities, Robert Le Hunte confirmed this to Guardian Media yesterday in response to notice put out by WASA.
Le Hunte said: “This is an ongoing process that WASA started with its amnesty and its a process like any organisation.”
He continued: “For any organisation, for it to be viable, when they provide a service they have to get paid. Otherwise, if you don’t then the organisation will not be able to run. It wouldn’t be sustainable.”
In the Request for Proposal that was issued yesterday, WASA identified a desire to engage with a debt collection agency. Le Hunte said that amnesty, which was announced months ago invited people who owed the organisation money, as well as those “who have illegal connections to come in.”
Le Hunte said: “We did signal at the end of that amnesty that if people didn’t come in to make arrangements, that this would follow.”
When asked about the time frame for implementation on the collection of outstanding debt, Le Hunte said that he did not know and that decision is left up to the company executives. He said: “I don’t micromanage the company like that, that’s for the board of directors and management to see about.”
“So I suspect they are putting their systems in place to try and collect the money, or some of the money, that’s what they have done after the amnesty,” said Le Hunte.
The minister said that he understood the importance of the organisation’s need to collect its debts. He said, in order “for WASA to be able to do the business and provide the service that citizens are calling for, they need to be in a position to have the cash flow.”
As a result, Le Hunte said that WASA will implement the measures necessary to collect some of the money that is outstanding within the purview of the law.
Le Hunte noted: “I also recognise that people complain about the service that WASA gives, but it is a chicken and an egg. You need the money to provide the service and if you don’t have the money, you wouldn’t get the service.”
Le Hunte said that he understands that there are people who probably not getting the service while paying, “but there are individuals who get service.” He said: “There are around 50 per cent of the population that get water 24/7. At least we have to ensure that they are paying.”