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Mottley denies rumours of BWA privatisation, water rate increase

by Barbados Today
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Prime Minister Mia Mottley has categorically denied claims that the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) will be privatised and that water rates will increase.

During a press conference at Ilaro Court to provide an update on several issues of national importance, Mottley told reporters the allegations were being made by people “playing fast and loose” to create fear among the population.

“First of all, I want to say categorically, that there has been no such discussion of the raising of water rates. I want to also say there has been no such discussion about the privatisation of the Barbados Water Authority,” she said.

“When you have this kind of speculation from persons who should know better . . . all you are doing, as we are seeing in the United States of America, in the UK and in the rest of the region, is diminishing the quality of our democracy, and the truth is, we have a strong democracy.”

Her comments were in direct response to economist and former Democratic Labour Party (DLP) candidate for The City of Bridgetown Kemar Stuart posting a message on social media warning Barbadians of the “need to focus on the . . . privatisation of the BWA and the raising of water rates happening soon in this country”.

Stuart had pointed to the decision announced at the end of June that Government officials would be travelling to the Netherlands to get technical support and manpower to ensure clear strategic planning and engineering when it comes to water resource management.

Describing this as “really strange”, Stuart recalled that the Government had received “two big loans” in 2020 to “upgrade and modernise BWA”. He also contended that almost all countries in an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme tried to privatise their water utility company.

“Just keep connecting the dots, people,” he said in the five-minute video message which was accompanied by text.

He further charged that “soon you will hear Government announcing a PPP [private-public partnership] just like what they did with the airport, but this time it will be a PPP with the Water Authority”.

“So my people you are being warned…. Look out for your water bills to be increased and look out for the Water Authority to be privatised just like the airport. Be vigilant people,” Stuart said.

However, a visibly concerned Mottley said on Friday that perhaps the time had come to put “a blue tick, a fact check, on every piece of information that is put out in this country now because people are playing fast and loose”.

“When they play fast and loose, it is intended to create fear-mongering among the population so that it can propel some to political growth,” said Mottley.

Taking a direct swipe at Stuart, who unsuccessfully contested the post of DLP general secretary last weekend, the Prime Minister said: “If you really want to be propelled to political growth, come and sit down and let me talk to you and tell you how to do it. But don’t do it at the expense of Bajans, I beg you, especially this young man; I actually like him.”

“I don’t want him to be talking about things that bear no relationship to reality,” she added.

Stuart went up against Mottley in the 2018 general election on a Solutions Barbados ticket before joining the DLP to contest the 2022 elections.

(MM)

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