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NWC going after delinquent customers

Published:Friday | May 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell/ Senior Staff Reporter

With a massive $26 billion owed by National Water Commission (NWC) customers, President Mark Barnett says the company is now in discussions with several entities that have expressed an interest in purchasing the outstanding receivables.

Barnett told journalists that a significant part of this debt were sums owed for more than 365 days.

"We are not only saying it to the public, we are pursuing it. We recognise that there are legal issues that have to be worked out, but rest assured, this management is serious in getting at those receivables," declared Barnett during a press conference last Friday at the NWC's corporate offices in New Kingston. The NWC president also provided an update on the company's Kingston and St Andrew Non-Revenue Water co-management programme.

"We are going to try various strategies to collect the funds, because a utility cannot survive without a constant stream of revenues," he said.

He said the NWC faces its biggest challenge in collecting revenue for water from persons living in inner-city communities. According to Barnett, of a population of 330,000 in inner-city communities in Kingston and

St Andrew, only 33,000 accounts are registered on the NWC's database. He said a significant number of these accounts do not pay for the commodity.

To tackle this problem, Barnett said the agency would be installing meters in these areas and is aiming for 100 per cent metering of residents.

He said thousands of electronic meters would be installed in the "socially challenged areas".

"It can't be that we are more inclined to be on social media or using other utilities which are not critical to health or your life. It can't be that we are compromising the health of our children and others within these communities by not paying for water."

A strident Barnett said the NWC would be very aggressive and relentless in ensuring that it improves the service to communities, "but coming with that investment for improved service, consumers in those communities must start to pay".