KINGSTON — The Ministry of Housing, Environment and Water and the National Commercial Bank (NCB) on August 2, signed a US$37 million contract for the refinancing of an existing loan for the Central Wastewater Treatment Company.
Speaking at the ceremony, which was held at the NCB’s Trafalgar Road headquarters, Minister of Housing, Environment and Water, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, said the local capital injection will bring relief to the NWC, and bring about a “certain tidiness to current government financial arrangement, which was required as part of our economic programme.” The NWC has majority shares in the Central Wastewater Treatment Company.
Dr. Chang reiterated the thrust by Government to make the NWC more efficient and enhance production, thereby making it a viable entity that will attract investment from the local and international capital markets.
“The NWC is still one of our largest utility companies, serving nearly 600,000 households, having a cash flow of about $17 billion, and employing some 2,000 people, largely Jamaican professionals. We have had challenges, and we are taking steps to correct them, and make it a viable and sustainable utility, that can raise money confidently from the local capital market,” the Minister said.
He noted that more than US$1 billion had been earmarked to enhance the operations of the NWC over the next 10 years, with the objective of reducing non-revenue water by some 25 per cent, and increasing access to water in rural areas to some 70 per cent.
“We require this type of investment to ensure that we have a utility which we can take pride in, and provide the level of efficiency that we want for Jamaica,” the Minister said.
He explained that the introduction of the K factor in 2008, which is a component of the customer’s water bill, is dedicated to the investment programme of the NWC, adding that K factor funds could exceed $40 billion over the 10-year period.
The funds are overseen by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR).
By ALPHEA SAUNDERS, JIS Reporter