The opposition say they are opposed to a decision by the state-owned National Water Commission (NWC) to sell part of its debt to a collection agency.
NWC Chairman Mark Barnett told a quarterly news briefing yesterday that the utility company was packing $ 15 billion to $ 20 billion of its debt for sale to a collection entity at a reduced rate.
“There are no details in terms of customer class. It will include housing, condominiums and businesses [customers]. Obviously, the government’s accounts will not be part of it, ”he said.
READ: NWC to Sell Billions of Debt to Collection Agency
Opposition water spokesman Lothan Cousins said the opposition believes given the current circumstances in the country such a move would be misguided and add additional pressure on Jamaicans.
He says the collection agencies’ approach is aggressive and will only worsen the situation for people in low-income communities who struggle daily to make ends meet.
“Transferring customers’ water bills in the midst of the pandemic to a collection agency is unreasonable, and therefore, it should be immediately canceled as it shows no compassion for the poor and vulnerable, including disabled Jamaicans.” Cousins said in a statement today. .
While acknowledging the financial challenges facing the NWC, he argues that a more inclusive approach should be taken, such as offering incentives such as debt forgiveness / write-offs and deferral plans to encourage compliance and other measures to encourage customers to settle overdue accounts.
He says the NWC’s billing system needs to be upgraded because there have been too many complaints of overcharging and in some cases people have received bills when they did not have water in their homes. pipelines for years.
The opposition spokesperson said that instead of increasing the stress level of the working masses, the NWC should focus on designing an efficient and reliable supply system to help fight the pandemic. of COVID-19.
He said the party continues to be concerned about the lack of focus on rural communities’ water supply systems and urges the government to do everything in its power to address it.
Cousins says that if the government insists on the plan, any deal on the sale of NWC’s debt must be fair, competitive and transparent.