REMARKS BY MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND WORKS
HONOURABLE MARK VANTERPOOL
AT THE SIGNING OF WATER PURCHASE AGREEMENTS
FEBRUARY 14, 2017
REDUCING THE COST OF WATER TO THE GOVERNMENT
I am happy to be here today representing the Premier and his Government in the signing of these Water Purchase Agreements.
This marks a significant milestone in our efforts to reduce the cost of water production to the Government of the Virgin Islands.
Ever since this Government took office in November 2011, the cost of water to the Government has been a major concern.
By directives from the Premier, as Minister for Communications and Works, it was my duty to make every effort to reduce this cost to the Government. Since then, negotiations ensued with all the suppliers of water to the Government to achieve this objective.
Today marks the signing of three major Water Purchase Agreements, which will reduce the cost of water to the Government, by approximately 30 per cent or approximately $2 million per annum, lowering the rate from an average cost of $19 per thousand gallons previously, to an average cost of less than $13 per thousand gallons.
The Agreements signed today include:
1. The renewal of production at the Capoon’s Bay Water Plant on Tortola, with Aqua Design (BVI Ltd.);
2. Supplemental agreement for increased production in North Sound, Virgin Gorda with Aqua Design (BVI Ltd.); and
3. A supplement agreement with Ocean Conversion (BVI Ltd.) on Tortola.
In addition, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed with Seven Seas Water BVI Ltd. (BiWater) and the Government of the Virgin Islands, to review the BiWater Contract, with a view to lowering the water rate charged under the Water Purchase Agreement.
This is subject to agreement with the lender, Barclays PLC and UK Export Finance (UK EF). Expectations for a final Agreement are imminent.
Once this MOU is concluded and becomes a Supplemental Agreement, the Government is expected to save approximately $4 million per annum. This will bring a total savings, through our negotiations on all Water Purchase Agreements, to approximately $6 million per annum.
As Minister for Communications and Works, I am very pleased to see this progress towards reducing the disparity between water purchased and water sold, which negatively impacted the Government’s Annual Budgetary Estimates.
I commend all so far who have been instrumental in the successful conclusion of these negotiations, particularly the team at the Ministry of Communications and Works, led by my Permanent Secretary, Mr. Anthony McMaster, as well as the other parties involved in these Water Purchase Agreements.
We consider this a major accomplishment, which is in keeping with Government’s commitment to reduce the cost of water and have a more efficient Water Distribution Network.
I do recognize that we still have some challenges in terms of the reliability and consistency of the water supply in several communities, but I would use this opportunity to assure residents that every effort is being made to improve this situation.
Thank you again to the principals who are party to these Agreements here today and we look forward to further improvements in the supply of water to the residents of these Virgin Islands.