Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 27th annual Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) Conference and Exhibition at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St. James on October 8, Mr. Holness said this has become necessary following a review of the corporate governance and the business model of the water company.
“The NWC’s current business model, we realise, at times limits its ability to fulfil its own mission, leading to difficulties in raising capital or even meeting regulatory targets,” the Prime Minister noted.
“At the same time, the cost of water services is approaching unaffordable levels. In light of these challenges, the NWC and the Government are resolved to exploring new business models, including corporatisation of public and private partnership to transform the sector,” he added.
Mr. Holness said that of utmost importance is the need to reorganise and change the NWC from its current form, moving it from being a statutory body to a company registered under the Company’s Act.
“We are also looking at raising equity finance by listing shares of the new corporate entity on the Jamaica Stock Exchange, and delegating services to private providers to function as concessionaires. These are all new models of the provision of the water service that we have to consider if we are to meet the growing challenges of providing accessible and high-quality water services to our people,” he added.
The Prime Minister said he is cognisant that the problems will not dissipate overnight, and that there will always be challenges “whenever we seek to enter upon a new paradigm in the provision of what is considered to be a public service”.
He listed as one of the main challenges, the need to maintain public confidence and to have persons understand that there can be new models in the provision of a public service that do not in any way place a detriment “on the equity and accessibility of the provision”, but instead could actually increase the availability and quality, while at the same time reduce the cost to the consumer.
The Prime Minister said he is mindful that there will be pushbacks, “but as the challenges to the provision of water grow, and as the public expectation grows, the Government has to respond with both creative and innovative measures that can bring solutions to the problem”.
More than 400 regional delegates and international participants are attending the five-day event, which is being held under the theme ‘Climate Resilience: Innovation and Partnership for Sustainable Water and Wastewater Development’.
The discussions and deliberations will focus on a wide range of themes and topics covering water, wastewater and solid waste management.
These include ‘Climate-Resilient Infrastructure’; ‘Water and Waste – the Energy Nexus’; ‘Planning for Climate Variability and Change’; and ‘Waste Management and Security’.
The event is being co-hosted by the Government of Jamaica, NWC and the CWWA.
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