KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines does not get a water bill, therefore, comments that the Unity Labour Party administration does not pay its water bill is misleading, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told Parliament on Friday.
Gonsalves, in the wrap-up of the Budget Debate, was responding to opposition Member of Parliament Daniel Cummings who said earlier in the week that the government owed the Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA) EC$3 million dollars for water.
“Mr. Speaker, in relation to the CWSA, I just want to say some things. I just want to say that the member for West Kingstown has misled this house and the people of this country [by] saying that the government doesn’t pay its water bill,” said Gonsalves who is also Minister of Finance.
“Well, the government doesn’t pay its water bill because we don’t have any water bill to pay. [There] is no school, no department in government where they get a water bill. We give EC$1.4 million subvention, a block subvention, to them so that there is no water bill which is handed out,” he further added.
“Now, from time to time, as with subvention to any state enterprise that is handed out, they may be short a $200,000, a $300,000 but they get paid,” Gonsalves said.
The CWSA is slated to announce tomorrow the new rates Vincentians are to pay for water and waste disposal.
Cummings, a former manager of the CWSA, said the increases come because the government is not paying its water bill.
“But I can’t understand a serious man would say that the reasons why we are raising the water rates is because government owes money on their water bill,” Gonsalves said.
“Even if that were the case, which it is not the case, you don’t increase the price of delivering a service or a commodity because the seller has receivables. You ask for a rate increase on the basis of the revenue which is generated in relation to your expenses and your capital programmes,” he further stated.
“You think that could get past cabinet — a cabinet with Ralph chairing it? Well these are such elementary points but the Honourable Member for West Kingstown has a propensity — with great respect to him — of speaking things about which he doesn’t quite know and to speak them authoritatively and also to speak very piddling ideas as though they are earth-shaking,” he added.