Thursday, July 21, 2011

Is NAWEC’s Financial Status In Jeopardy?

From the Public Accounts and Public Enterprise Committees (PAC/PEC) of the National Assembly to the Public Hearing organised by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), the National Water and Electricity Company, NAWEC have been lamenting the huge sums of money it is owed.
This compelled the Company in what has been seen as a drastic move, to publish in a media dispatch the names of individuals and institutions owing it voluminous sums of monies.

Among them, Government ministries, local government institutions, parastatals and some influential economic operators in the country, who continue to consume water and electricity services and are not paying as should have been.
NAWEC announces that as of June 21, 2011, it is owed over two billion dalasis, including debts accumulated by the Office of the President, pegged at thirty-two million one hundred and twenty thousand dalasis (D32, 120,000). 
The press release, published on the pro-government daily newspaper, the Daily Observer, revealed the “Ministry of Defence having the highest debt among the lot.”
Public institutions such as the State-owned broadcaster, Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) owes over fourteen million dalasis (D14, 000,000) to NAWEC.
The Green Industries and the Presidential Villa also owe the Company a total of more than fifty million dalasis (D50, 000,000). 
A sum of over one hundred and twenty-five million three hundred and seventy-six thousand dalasis (D125, 376,000) has been accumulated by the seven Area Councils in The Gambia, with the Brikama Area Council owing the highest.
A few private institutions and individuals such as Mr Amadou Samba, Mustapha Njie, Ocean Bay Hotel, Kanilai Farms, and Taf Constructions – put together, owe NAWEC nearly eleven million dalasis (D11, 000,000).
Attempts are being made to recover these huge sums of monies and The Voice newspaper understands that NAWEC has already forwarded a list of debtors to the joint Committees, the PAC/PEC of the National Assembly.
The Committees had initially scheduled July 11-12 as the date for an extraordinary session to see how these monies can be recovered, however, a press statement on July 8 stated the postponement of the proposed session until “further notice”.
During a February 12 Public Hearing on the Propose increase in electricity tariff, NAWEC’s Finance Director Mr Alhagie Jallow said: “We are facing some financial problems and if we do not solve it, it will affect us a lot in our operations.”
Adding that the company will do everything within its ability to recover monies owed to it, saying “we do not see a way out if the necessary steps are not taken.”
The Utility Company has recorded an operational loss of more than seven hundred and sixty-one million dalasis (D761 million) in the last two years (2008 and 2010), undoubtedly harming the revenue base of the company and its operational cost.
In what could be described as being in between the devil and the deep blue sea, NAWEC also owes its major suppliers sum 830 million dalasis in 2010, compared to 378 million dalasis in 2008.
Being in this financial situation, it is now evident that the public’s disapproval of attempts to increase charges on electricity, was not going to stop NAWEC from increasing tariffs.
The National Service provider has since increase charges on electricity, but charges for water and sewage remain unchanged.  

  • Author: Modou S. Joof, news editor – The Voice Newspaper

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