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Taxpayers keep loss-making entities afloat

Published:Friday | April 4, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

JAMAICAN TAXPAYERS will continue to provide huge subsidies to keep at least three of the country's major state-owned entities afloat as they project significant losses in the 2014-2015 financial year.

The National Water Commission (NWC) is projecting a net deficit of $3.5 billion for the new fiscal year. This is expected to be approximately $2.5 billion less than the $5.9 billion in losses for the just ended 2013-2014 financial year.

The Jamaica Public Bodies Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure, which was tabled yesterday in Parliament, outlines that the NWC will this year be implementing selected business strategies and capital projects that are expected to reduce the level of non-revenue water.

It states that the commission will also be taking steps to achieve energy and other efficiency targets, contain operating costs and enhance revenues.

Massive JUTC loss projected

And the Jamaica Urban Transit Company Limited's (JUTC) profit and loss account shows a projected $2.2 billion loss for the current financial year.

The massive deficit is forecast despite the entity's planned implementation of the cashless fare-collection system, increased bus run out and the reclamation of some of the more profitable routes in the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR). The new routes are expected to increase passenger numbers from 52 million in the last fiscal year to 68 million this year.

Among the plans to secure viability over the 2014-2017 period, the JUTC will be introducing bus lanes in the KMTR to increase cycle trips and ridership, implementing a bus-rehabilitation programme and increasing the number of smart card locations.

Meanwhile, there seems to be no cessation to the hemorrhaging of the loss-making Clarendon Alumina Production (CAP) Limited of which the Jamaican Government owns 45 per cent interest in the Jamalco Refinery.

The Jamaica Public Bodies Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure indicates that CAP is projected to make a loss of US$46.48 million or a little more than J$5 billion.

CAP represents Jamaica in a joint venture agreement with ALCOA for the operation of Jamalco, a bauxite mining and alumina plant.

Last year, the Government shelved plans to divest its shares in the entity.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com