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'Bloated NWC is bankrupt of ideas'

Published:Wednesday | May 3, 2017 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell

THE Member of Parliament for Hanover Western, who was state minister in the ministry with responsibility for water in the last administration, has described the National Water Commission (NWC) as a public body that is bankrupt of ideas.

Taking aim at the agency during his presentation to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament yesterday, Hayles said that the NWC would never be able to deliver to Jamaicans full access to potable water.

"How can you have a bloated bureaucratic agency with approximately 17 vice-presidents and assistant vice-presidents, 2,000 employees, a president, and a board and yet still cannot fulfil its mandate?" he questioned.

"It is beginning to resemble a feeding trough more than a critical agency with a mandate to quench the thirst of a nation hungry for development and thirsty for the basic comforts of life. Water is life," said Hayles.

According to Hayles, when he was state minister, he read editorials about the NWC, and the discussions often did not favour privatisation "because the belief was that if you privatise water, the people will pay more".

However, Hayles said: "For every day that I spent in that ministry and observed the operations of the NWC, I became more convinced that the people are paying more for water and will continue to do so until the Government becomes serious about public-private partnerships. That is the only salvation for the water sector."

The Hanover West MP said that it had always been the mandate of the NWC to provide water to 85 per cent of the population, noting that the remaining 15 per cent would be served from a combination of sources, including minor rural supplies. According to Hayles, the NWC supplies water to more than 60 per cent of households.

"But in the interim, the entire country suffers from inadequate water supply, leaking pipes, and malfunctioning sewerage plants," he noted.

He emphasised that there was need to look at fresh options, particularly a model that involves the private sector.