Barbadians are flat out refusing to pay the recently implemented Garbage and Sewage Collection (GSC) tax, which was recently tacked on their water bill. This has resulted in revenue at the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) falling by 40 per cent between the billing period of August and September.
This revelation was made by Chairman of the BWA board Leodeane Worrell who is warning that the state-owned water company intends to ramp up disconnections against those refusing to pay their bills.
Worrell explained the BWA was merely the conduit for collecting the $1.50 per day tax. This meant that even though customers were paying their bill minus the levy, the BWA was still obligated to take the GSC from the amount paid.
During a press conference summoned by Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams in the Committee Room of Parliament this afternoon, Worrell revealed that on average the BWA realizes revenues of $10 million monthly. Since the introduction of the tax on August 1, the intake for the cash strapped water company took a nose dive to about $6 million. This threatens to worsen the company’s outstanding arrears, which to date stands at $15 million.
The BWA Chairman said, “There are individuals who might say that they are only paying their water bill but the net effect of that is that we are obligated by statute to take out the GSC and your water bill will go into arrears.”
She said the BWA had set up a committee to review applications of people requesting exemptions from the GSC under the guidelines of the Ministry of Finance. But not paying the GSC was not an option Worrell said, unless explicit permission was granted.
Noting that Prime Minister Mia Mottley has mandated that the BWA functions on its own earnings, Worrell made it clear her organization had no choice but to get tough with defaulters.
“Those who find themselves in arrears because of circumstances beyond their control will be dealt with under a different dispensation. But those who find themselves in arrears because they are not paying the GSC will be another story,” said Worrell, who revealed results from a recent survey that showed Barbadians paid their cellular phone bill before paying their water bill.
Abrahams echoed the warning of Worrell, making clear he would not be sympathetic to those who deliberately placed themselves in a situation where they owed the water company substantial amounts in arrears.
If you get your water disconnected because you did not pay the GSC please do not call me. I am not interfering with, issuing instructions to, nor tampering with any decision pertaining to the water authority to disconnect someone because they took it upon themselves not to pay the GSC,” Abrahams said.