Following a rocky rollout on August 1 with some business and individual customers refusing to pay, significantly more Barbadians are now complying with the Garbage and Sewage Collection (GSC) tax tacked on their Barbados Water Authority (BWA) bill, BWA chairperson Leodeane Worrell has revealed.
Worrell told Barbados TODAY that she credits the compliance to the BWA making good on its threat to disconnect people and companies racking up arrears because of a refusal to pay the tax.
And her message to business who have “chosen” not to make their payments to the state enterprise: “Look out, we are coming.”
“Since our last meeting we made it clear that the Barbados Water Authority has the right to cut off water of people who are in arrears and the none payment of the entire bill constitutes arrears. So we have started to implement a concerted effort to in doing that and as a result of that quite a number of people have entered into arrangements with the Barbados Water Authority to clear their arrears,” said Worrell.
It was late last month that Worrell revealed that many Barbadians were flat out refusing to pay the GSC tax, leading to a 40 per cent fall in the state-owned water utility’s revenue in the August-September billing period.
At the time Worrell said the BWA was merely a 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.
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, down from its usual monthly take of $10 million. The falloff threatened to worsen the authority’s outstanding arrears, which to date stand at $15 million.
The vocal chairman issued a stern warning at the time that the BWA intended to ramp up disconnections against those refusing to pay their bills.
While Worrell was not in a position to reveal the dollar amount of the intake for October or by how much the arrears were reduced, she expressed happiness with the BWA’s collection for the period.
“I do have to congratulate the domestic customers; they have come in and we have been able to work with them. Our policy especially for those laid off is rather sympathetic,” she declared, pointing to the creation of a BWA committee to review requests for exemptions from the GSC under Ministry of Finance guidelines.
The BWA chairperson revealed that a no-nonsense approach was also applied to a number of delinquent corporate clients and as a result many have now falling in line.
“The Barbados Water Authority of today is very different to the one before,” Worrell declared. “If you owe, you pay; if you don’t pay then we cut you off. To those corporate entities that have chosen for one reason or another not to pay then I say them ‘look out, we are coming,’”.
“I am happy to report that we have tackled the list of corporate entities and they are now compliant in terms of paying… We have had to disconnect a number of corporate customers, who promptly found themselves in a position where they were able to cough up the funds,” Worrell said.