Ag. Deputy Chief Information Officer
Department of Information & Public Relations
The Government of the Virgin Islands has announced that renegotiation will be done on all Water Purchase Agreements to streamline the cost of producing the commodity.
Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable, D. Orlando Smith, OBE made this announcement during his 2017 Budget Address at the Fourth Sitting of the Second Session of the Third House of Assembly on January 16 under the theme: ‘Charting the Course: Positioning the Virgin Islands for the Future’.
The Premier stated that the Government will also upgrade the water distribution network to ensure that every community and resident have access to the public water supply. Plans are also in place to modernise the billing system at the Water and Sewerage Department to provide e-bills.
Negotiations have already been initiated with the three major water production companies in the Territory, GE Water/Aqua Design, Seven Seas Water and Ocean Conversion, to decrease the cost of water to the Government.
Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Communications and Works, Mr. Anthony McMaster said, “The discussions thus far have been very successful and we think that within the first quarter of 2017, we would sign amendments to the water purchase agreements, which will see a dramatic decrease in the water purchase rate to Government.”
The Government of the Virgin Islands is currently purchasing water at an average of $22.00 per 1,000 imperial gallons including the cost of electricity. The purchase cost being negotiated is approximately 40 percent lower.
McMaster added, “What we are pushing for now is about $13.00 per 1,000 imperial gallons including the cost of electricity, across all the companies. So some rates might be lower and some higher but the average rate will be around $13.00.”
Public water prices are expected to remain the same with the new proposed agreement. “If we are able to renegotiate the water rates and get them down, then we can allow the water rates to the consumer to remain constant while lowering the cost to Government.” Mr. McMaster said.
The Ministry of Communications and Works is committed to providing affordable utility services to the public while enhancing the public infrastructure.
NOTES TO EDITOR(S):
Audio clip: Interview with Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Communications and Works, Mr. Anthony McMaster on the lowering water rates.