Residents of the Grenadines who do not pay their solid waste collection and disposal fee now risk having their electricity disconnected as a result.

Parliament this week amended the Environmental Health Services Act, mandating the state-owned electricity company, VINLEC, to collect the tax in the Grenadines, where there is no municipal water supply.

On St. Vincent Island, the state-owned Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA), which manages garbage collection nationally, attaches the solid waste management fees to the water bill.

However, while the CWSA bills Grenadine residents for the service, only 8 per cent of them pay the bill.

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Ralph Gonsalves, in presenting the bill to Parliament, noted that the CWSA collects garbage once weekly in St. Vincent and twice weekly in the Grenadines.

There is a monthly charge of $11 added to the premises with water collections in St. Vincent, Gonsalves said, adding that almost every house on the island has a water connection.

A monthly charge is billed by CWSA to all domestic Grenadine residents.

All commercial customers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are responsible for their own waste collection and are not billed for the service. Commercial customers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines pay different rates for garbage disposal at the CWSA’s landfills.

Gonsalves told lawmakers that the CWSA sends bills to all domestic Grenadine customers, but only 8 per cent of the customer base actually pays them.

“So you have on St. Vincent for the collection and disposal of your garbage, the fee is put on the water bill and if you don’t pay it, your water gets cut off. In the Grenadines — in Bequia, Canouan and Union because there is no central water system as you have here in St. Vincent, … the service which is provided twice a week, they are billed, the residents in the Grenadines, but only 8 per cent of them pay.

“Now, that can’t be fair. That can’t be right,” he said.

“In the Grenadines, it is not on the water bill, because none gets sent out. In the Grenadines, because they know nothing would be disconnected, they ignore the bill, Gonsalves said.

“It can’t be fair. It can’t be right,” he told Parliament.

He said there are 3,001 domestic customers in the Grenadines and 273 commercial customers.

Gonsalves said he knows that the majority of people in the Grenadines want a system which ensures that they pay for their garbage collection and disposal because they believe in fairness.

Gonsalves also said Grenadines residents also want to see that the service develops even further and that they should contribute to it.

He said the CWSA pays about EC$1.5 million for solid waste management services in the Grenadines, but residents are billed for only 29 per cent of the cost.

“That is to say, $420,000. So CWSA already absorbs a million dollars plus. But of this $420,000 which they charge annually, they collect only $33,000. Eight percent. Now, that can’t be reasonable.”

Gonsalves said more people are visiting the Grenadines and the nation has to ensure that they are kept clean.

“So you have increased waste volumes and, therefore, increased costs. Surely, we must recoup some of this cost. It can’t be fair that you’re spending one and a half million dollars and you are only collecting 33,000”

He further said the CWSA has on the book the Grenadines Solid Waste Management Project and needs to have some seed money to be able to kick off the project to deliver an even better service.

“Let VINLEC collect the solid waste money in the Grenadines so it comes on the electricity bill,” Gonsalves said.

“So, what this bill does is to give VINLEC the authority to collect the solid waste collection and disposal fees and that VINLEC would charge CWSA a commission for doing it for them. And this fee would be taken as part of the VINLEC bill. So that in the same way that you if you don’t pay your CWSA bill here in St. Vincent, including the $11 a month, you will get your water cut off, when this comes into being and you don’t pay the $10 in the Grenadines, the same thing will happen to your electricity,” Gonsalves said.

4 replies on “VINLEC to cut off Grenadine homes that don’t pay CWSA garbage fee”

  1. I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, and this just don’t jive, but once again we are talking bout SVG a place where rules and the correct methods of doing business is often if not always thrown out the window. Can this be done legally if the two company has not merge into one large company. Let me ask a question are these two company owned by the Government? Hmmm! Only thing left is for Vincentian to stand up to all this madness, but then again we talking bout Vincentians, who seems to be laid back to any and everything.

    1. C. ben-David says:

      Sharp comment indeed. The two utilities should have been merged years ago and then totally privatised. Why the two buildings when one at Paul’s Lot would have sufficed.

      If our banks, grocery stores, and telecommunications companies can be private entries, why not the utilities?

      The state has far too much power over our lives as it is. Government regulated but privately owned and managed utilities are a growing trend all over the world.

      But in little SVG no party would ever take such a radical step which would reduce their control over the citizenry.

    2. C. ben-David says:

      To answer your question, the following is taken from the VINLEC web site:

      “The history of electricity in St. Vincent and the Grenadines dates back to 1931, when the Crown Colony Government began providing electricity to thirty two customers. The Company’s forerunner, the Common Wealth Development Corporation (CDC), a British based Company, took over the operations of the electricity business in 1953.

      The formation of St. Vincent Electricity Services Limited (VINLEC) in 1961 set the pace for the development of the electricity sector in the country. During the early 1970’s the government acquired 49% shares, while 51% remained with the CDC. The operations were further streamlined with the enactment of the Electricity Supply Act of 1973. On July 1 1985, VINLEC became a state owned entity, when the government acquired the remaining 51% shares of the Company.”

      No one but the government could afford to invest in all the new infrastructure in an earlier era. Today, however, there may be foreign entities willing to buy VINLEC and CWSA and should be invited to do so.

      Long live capitalism! Down with socialism!

      1. Thanks Ben! Interesting! My World is so different from SVG, sad state of affair, no wonder they can do whatever they choose. Except for the US Territories and Commonwealth, is this a widespread throughout the Caribbean Ben, or its just a Vincy thing?

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