The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) says it was disturbed to learn, from media reports, of the decision to increase water rates in two tranches – the first effective from October 01, this year and the second from October 01, 2019.
“Through the increases approved, ordinary Guyanese will now have to find thousands of dollars more per year to enjoy an essential building block of life in the Land of Many Waters” FITUG said in a statement, while outlining that based on the information it received, the rate increase could have been avoided if the Guyana Water Inc (GWI) collected rates from all consumers.
“At this time, we are unaware of steps to go in this direction in order to stave off the rate hike” said FITUG.
Addressing the concerns raised by the Water company’s CEO, Dr Richard Van-West Charles that the approved increases would be used in financing the GWI’s capital works, FITUG said “this is saddening recognizing that for quite a number of years the State had been assisting the Company in reaching its capital requirements. It seems to us, in view of the expansion of tax revenues in recent times, the Administration can continue to provide such assistance and thus negating the necessity for the rate hike.”
Reiterating its previously held position that the water rate hike would now require all consumers to pay VAT on water as they would now exceed the threshold, FITUG said that “this amounts to a further indirect increase of 14 per cent.”
Moreover, according to FITUG “this newest increase comes on the heels of several other burdens that have been placed on the workers in recent times and is causing workers, more and more, to curtail their consumption in order to live within their means. Slowly and steadily, dismayingly, workers, indeed working-people and citizens, are reaching the point where the proverbial straw will break the camel’s back.”
Six months after the GWI wrote the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) requesting an increase in their rates, the Commission on June 19, announced that their request has been granted.
To this end, the PUC said that from October 1, 2018, residential consumers who have meters will be made to pay a fixed rate of $250 per month, with users who fall in the $60 to $90 category having to pay $86 per cubic meters (m3) of water.
All other customers will have to pay $112 per m3 per month.
Moreover, as at October 1, 2019, that fixed charge will be increased to $500 per month, with unmetered consumers having to pay a monthly consumption charge of $1,100.
However, it was outlined that pensioners, metered or not, will have no fixed monthly rates, but as at October 1, 2018, they will be required to pay a monthly charge of $86. In October 2019, metered pensioners will have to pay to $112 while unmetered pensioners will be charged $740.
In the case of non-residential unmetered customers, as at October 2018, the monthly fixed charge will be $250 and the consumption charge will be $125 per m3. In October 2019, this will increase to $500 monthly, with a consumption charge of $150 per m3.
Additionally, with regards to small, medium, and large, commercial and industrial GWI consumers, as at October 1 2018, the monthly fixed charge will be $250, but the consumption charges will range from $2,200 to $21,000.
Meanwhile, an increase was also granted for the sewerage tariffs category, whereas residential consumers and pensioners will be required to pay $417 while non-residential customers will be charged $2,860.
The residential tamper fee will now be $30,000 while the non-residential fee will be hiked to $65,000.
The PUC also warned that as a condition of being granted the increase requested, the GWI will now have to meet specific milestones and provide reports on its performance to the regulatory body on a bi-annual basis.
This is expected to commence in January 2019.