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NSWMA chairman: Government should consider privatisation

Published:Friday | July 29, 2016 | 7:00 AMJovan Johnson
Dennis Chung

Dennis Chung, chairman of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), says the recommendation for the Government to consider privatising the agency is worthy of consideration.

Local think tank the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) says the privatisation of the entity could create "greater levels of efficiency and effectiveness in the SWM (solid waste management) sector as well as result in a reduction in the overall cost of SWM".

"Privatisation is definitely the way to go," Chung asserted.

He said the "fact is that the NSWMA and the Government do not have the capital requirements to properly service the areas, and the efficiencies that privatisation would bring would be a benefit. You wouldn't have to contend with the bureaucracy that comes with Government".

 

CHANGE IN ADMINISTRATION

 

He told The Gleaner that up to the change in administrations, the NSWMA board was contemplating the private pilot project in Portmore, St Catherine.

"That is something we're awaiting the policy decision to move ahead on. We definitely think privatisation is the way to go," he told The Gleaner.

When reached for a comment on Tuesday, Desmond McKenzie, local government minister, said he could not speak on the issue as he was in a meeting.

Last year, the Jamaica Labour Party vowed that if it formed the Government, which it has, since February, it would privatise the Riverton dump in St Andrew.

Up to March, 50 entities had expressed an interest in managing the dump, a Jamaica Information Service report cited McKenzie as saying. There has been no further update.

CaPRI has said that privatisation should not be viewed as a "miracle cure" as several "prerequisites" relating to monitoring and accountability systems, competition, and capacity building have to be met.

"Simply privatising the solid waste sector will not solve the problems that currently exist in Jamaica. The prerequisites for privatisation must first be put in place," read the report from the think tank based at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies.

It added that "the private sector should service no more than 70 per cent of any city, with the remainder done by the Government". This way, the report noted, "in the event that the private contractor is unable to carry out its contractual obligations, the Government retains the capacity to quickly intervene."

CaPRI's study, led by researcher Travis Atkinson, pointed to private sector experiences in solid waste management in The Bahamas, Egypt, and Malaysia as examples for the Jamaican Government.

The report said that one potentially contentious issue - that of user cost and impact on low-income customers - should be "thoroughly assessed".

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com