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NWC offers customers debt write-off

Published:Tuesday | June 30, 2015 | 3:55 PMEdmond Campbell

Beginning today, the National Water Commission (NWC) is rolling out a massive debt-forgiveness programme as it woos customers to clear at least half of their outstanding balances accumulated over a 180-day period with the promise of a debt write-off of between 40 per cent and 60 per cent.

Dubbed 'Cruncher 180', the programme is part of several initiatives being implemented by the NWC to significantly boost revenue collections and reduce receivables at the commission.

Acting president of the NWC Mark Barnett said the commission was targeting the collection of between $1.5 billion and $2 billion over the three-month period spanning July and September.

He said persons who owed the commission over an extended period, as well as those who have made illegal connections to the NWC's facilities, were being urged to regularise their service or face tough action after this exercise expires.

Barnett cautioned that the NWC would not be as lenient with those who owed the commission large sums, as well as persons who were connected to the NWC's facilities illegally at the end of September.

"We are going to use the full extent of the powers that are vested in the NWC as is possible either through the courts or otherwise. We are not going to be as tolerant as we have been, by allowing persons to pay an amount as they will, at anytime, as they have been doing, but we are going directly to ensure that our customers pay on time and in full all the time," the NWC boss declared.

The commission is warning that failure on the part of indebted, disconnected customers and persons illegally receiving service from the NWC to take advantage of these extraordinary offers would result in them being targeted for disconnection, arrest, prosecution, bailiff action, court action, and even the sale of properties.

Under the Cruncher 180, customers who respond this month and pay 40 per cent of the outstanding balance, with a commitment to pay their subsequent current bills, will have the remaining 60 per cent written off by the commission. Persons who come in during this first month may opt for the other two combinations of write-offs also.

Customers who respond in August and pay 50 per cent of the outstanding balance with a commitment to pay their subsequent current bills will have the remaining 50 per cent written off by the commission. Persons who come in during the second month may opt for the benefits available in the third month of the programme.

Similarly, customers who respond in September and pay 60 per cent of the qualifying outstanding balance will have the remaining 40 per cent written off by the commission.

"I want to be as accommodating as possible. I am not coming down hard on you. If I give you three months out of the year, that is one quarter of the year - that's a reasonable time," reasoned Barnett.

On the question of curtailing illegal connections, the NWC head said he could not encourage his staff to risk their lives, noting that the commission was engaged in dialogue with the police as they prepare to tackle the problem. "I believe a partnership with a utility of our size can also solve other problems that the police may face as well. I believe there are mutual benefits to be derived from this move," he added.