Newly appointed chairman of the Water and Sewerage (WASA) Authority Dr Lennox Sealy is inviting all employees of the cash strapped company to make recommendations to reduce spending as they face a critical crisis on their hands.
He also warned that WASA will ramp up its revenue collection drive this year to become viable.
Sealy put forward the recommendation in the first issue of WASA’s 2021 chairman bulletin recently sent out to WASA workers.
The bulletin reminded the employees that as an emerging nation, WASA which services the public has to take responsibility for running its affairs.
He pointed out that while we continued to develop with the State taking responsibility for major sectors of the economy such as oil and gas, we struck a low point in the 1980’s and faced one crisis after another, including the 1990 attempted coup.
Then we saw two decades of political change leading up to 2020.
He said the reason for reflecting on the past was to put the Public Utilities Ministry within context, stating that TSTT transformed due to optic fibre and cellular technology, while T&TEC has been split into two power generation (PowerGen) and distribution (T&TEC).
“We are all in a situation where we must take full responsibility for running utilities that are no longer dependent solely on government for financing,” Sealy stated.
Stressing that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused this imperative to be even more critical now, Sealy pointed out that customers need service and management must now find creative ways of delivering this service.
“We no longer have options.” Sealy pointed out.
In his six weeks of serving as chairman, Sealy said he is determined to find leadership to put WASA on a better footing.
He stated that his first initiative is “cost reduction, revenue collection and regularisation programme.”
In terms of cost reduction, Sealy invited “all employees to make recommendations for ways in which WASA can reduce its spending. In this regard there are no sacred cows. All suggestions are welcome whether it pertains to executive salaries, lease costs or even electricity and telephone costs or rental costs.”
WASA has a workforce of 5,000.
Sealy said all ideas of improvement can be emailed to him at [email protected]
“I am fully aware that for some of our core activities, for example, leaking pipelines, employees have often had to supply fittings from their own pockets. It is however difficult to go cap in hand to Government for funding, if we ourselves are not showing or finding ways of reducing our spending.”
Regarding revenue collection, Sealy said while he empathised with the previous board whose position was not to be aggressive with revenue collection given the economic repercussions of the pandemic.
“However, as we enter the almost second year of the pandemic I believe we need to return to the mounting of a firm revenue collection drive.”
Last July, WASA’s CEO Allan Poon King stated that the water company was owed $800 million by residential and commercial customers.
With regards to regularisation. Sealy said, much of which pertains to human resource arrangements which have not followed best practice.
“I have asked that these arrangements be terminated so that we can reset the organisation and make a fresh start. We are in a real crisis and we have to find ways, in spite of everything, to show efficiency even if it means reorganisation of WASA into a more viable form.”
Sealy promised to introduce other initiatives to help turn around WASA during his two year tenureship.