THE Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago is not going to dissolve the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA).
This despite a Cabinet sub-committee recommending the incremental dissolution of the debit-riddled state enterprise to be replace with a water management company.
Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales make this revelation at press conference on Tuesday.
He said, “Cabinet is of the view with an empowered management team and a management that is held accountable to the people of T&T and to be given the mandate to manage in the way that any modern organisation ought to be managed there is absolutely no need to wind down the operations of WASA at this point in time.”
The minister said this will require funding and there were already offers from the Inter-American Development Bank, the Developmental Bank of Latin America (CAF) and local in international organisations.
Gonzales said, “Based on what is most feasible we will go back to Cabinet with a recommendation so as to identify a source of funding.“Yes, it is going to take some money but it is going to be monies well spent.”
He admitted that there was evidence that trade unions had become suppliers of goods and services to the authority “and there is concern that there is a culture of corruption in the procurement of services by the authority.”
Gonzales said the Cabinet has appointed WASA’s chairman Dr Lennox Sealy as the authority’s executive director and chief executive officer (CEO).
Sealy has replaced acting CEO Alan Poon King who will resume his substantive post as director of customer services.
Gonzales said, in 2013, 1,200 of WASA workers participated in a voluntary of separation employment programme which cost $360 million. He said the staff returned to 5,000 by 2015 and between 2010 and 2020, the government injected $23 billion into to WASA.
He said, “And you look into what are some of the things this money was spent, in my view, the vast majority of that money was spent not in trying to improve the water supply to the people of this country.”
Gonzales said this was for money owed to contractors, bills, overtime payments and salaries.
He said WASA owed contractors $650 million.
Gonzales said, “Of course, in a new WASA a lot of these works can be done in house as opposed to going out to private contractors.”
The WASA board will meet the trade unions representing WASA workers, the minister said.