Sanitation services remain unpaid, but the Belize Water Services Limited is asking the Public Utilities Commission to approve an increase in water rates. The P.U.C. says a determination will be made after following a full tariff review. News Five Jose Sanchez reports from a P.U.C. press conference which had its own side show.
Jose Sanchez, Reporting
The Public Utilities Commission has received an application from Belize Water Services Limited to review its rate structure. B.W.S. says it intends to invest in its infrastructure, but the business plan calls for increases in water rates, which could increase consumer bills by as much as twenty-five percent.
Leroy Almendarez, Director of Administration and Tariffs, P.U.C.
“The plan submitted by B.W.S. provides for some ninety-two point five million in investments for the provision of water services over the full tariff period and for some eight point six million in investments for the provision of sewer services in its authorized area of supply and some fourteen point nine million in other investments for a total of one hundred and sixteen point one million. B.W.S. expects some twenty point eight million of this total to be funded by developers and some forty-four point three million to be funded by debt. The business plan also projects operational expenditures and other costs related to the provision of services, ranging from thirty-three point six million for the first tariff period of the full tariff period to thirty-eight point three million for the last annual tariff period. The schedules and tariffs approved by the P.U.C. shall become effective on April first, 2010 irregardless of the date on which the P.U.C.’s final decision is issued.”
Alvan Haynes, Chief Executive Officer of Belize Water Services Limited, was present at the P.U.C.’s briefing.
Alvan Haynes, C.E.O., Belize Water Services
“We need money in order to operate, in order to deliver water to each one of you and to each consumer out there. We need to have funds which allow us to operate efficiently and to continue to provide the level of service that we’ve been providing.”
“But what has changed for the increase?”
“What has changed? Simply put the company has not had increase since 2005. The last significant increase was in 2004. Inflation alone since 2004, accumulates to seventeen percent plus. So that alone says there is a seventeen percent increase in cost over the period and that excludes the bumps from fuel prices, which plays a significant role to some of our costs.”
The question and answer session with the Water Services C.E.O. had to be continued outside because the P.U.C.’s Almendarez signaled to his Public Relations Officer to end the media session with Haynes.
Voice of Anne Wade: Pr., P.U.C.
“Mr. Haynes we are very happy with your presence—unexpected presence—to provide an opportunity for the press to chat with you on the submission by B.W.S. Our press conference is finished.”
“Mr. Haynes do you think the P.U.C. was surprised by your appearance at today’s press briefing?”
“It’s hard to tell, I think they sent us a notification so obviously, the application concerns us and it is in our interest to be present.”
“But we’re standing outside doing this interview. They wanted you to be seen but not to be heard.”
“No, I think they basically allotted a certain time for their people and their facilities so the time is up.”
“So you don’t see it as a potential bone of contention in the way things might pan out in the future regarding this rate increase?”
“No, we have the right to call our own press conference if we so desire. So our view is that we wanted to make sure what was covered at this press conference and then decide if it was worth just calling a press conference or just simply putting out our press release that we have prepared.”
“When it comes to the classification, how would you decide who would be charged what when it comes to the different rates?”
“Okay, the classifications we are proposing are simple; residential, commercial and others. Commercial would be customers who use in excess of ten thousand gallons per month for water and obviously are using water for commercial purpose. Residentials are obvious. The none-residential would include government, it would include normal business, retail stores, doctors, lawyers, churches, NGO’s etcetera.”
The rate increase is not final and is subject to public discussions. If approved, it will come on line in April 2010. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.