Dr. Chang Suspends Licensing of Privately Operated Water Supplies


Minister of Water and Housing, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, has said that his Ministry will not be issuing any more licences for the provision of water by private entities, until the National Water Policy is revised.
Dr. Chang said that his observation is that in formulating the policy in 2002, there was undue haste to involve the private sector and shift responsibility for investments in the provision of access to safe drinking water for all Jamaicans, from Government.
“I think there was undue haste to say that the private sector should be involved, whether as business or as community based organisations, and in a sense shift responsibility from Central Government to provide adequate investments in water. That, to me, was the driving force behind that policy and it has created a lot of problems,” the Minister stated.

Minister of Water and Housing, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, (right) in discussions with Programme Director of the Rural Water Programme, Ian Gage, at the Workshop on the Sustainability of Community Managed Water Supply Systems held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday (June 3) by the Government in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank(IDB).

Permanent Secretary in his Ministry, Genefa Hibbert, has been instructed to lead a review of the Water Sector Policy which, he says, has contradictions and unreasonable proposals.
Dr. Chang was addressing the Rural Water Programme Workshop on the Sustainability of Community Managed Water Supply Systems Project, funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), held on Wednesday(June 3), at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston.
He said the impracticality of competitive water rates from private suppliers, in relation to that charged by the National Water Commission (NWC) was also posing a problem.
“Until the issues are resolved, I’m not signing anymore licences,” Dr. Chang said.

Community Development and Gender Specialist for Rural Water Programme, Linnette Vassell, making a presentation at the Workshop on the Sustainability of Community Managed Water Supply Systems held at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, on Wednesday (June 3) by Government in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank.

The Jamaica Water Sector Policy was formulated by the Government in 2002, to facilitate the development of the sector, and to assist the process of meeting the challenge of universal access by 2010.
The Policy is aimed at the development of the national and sub-national water and sanitation sector, including rural water services expansion, promoting conservation and demand side management, reduce unaccounted for water and leaks, overhauling the billing system to increase revenue and enable expansion of the service and to encourage and facilitate private sector participation.
It also aims at improving the efficiency of the NWC, the country’s main water service provider, to enable lower provision costs, greater availability of water and increased profitability for expansion.
The Project Implementation Unit of the Rural Water Programme hosted the workshop, to address the issue of long term sustainability of the community managed water supply systems, and to ascertain whether such projects should be replicated, as the GOJ/IDB Rural Water Programme ends in August.
In February 2002, the Government signed a loan agreement with the IDB to provide financing for the implementation of a series of water supply projects in the Rural Water Programme. It is expected that when the projects are completed, they will be managed and operated by beneficiary communities.
The purpose of the programme is to reduce waterborne diseases in rural communities, based on the community participation principle. The specific characteristics of the project are to develop and implement a community based approach to conceptualise, co-finance, administer, operate and maintain water services in rural Jamaica.

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