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Gov’t owes WUC 320 million pula water bill

Publishing Date : 27 February, 2018


Government is failing to pay a whooping 320 million pula that it owes to Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) in water bills. The water corporation is now threatening to disconnect government offices from water supply.  The utility is a government-owned corporation that provides water and waste water management services in Botswana.

In a normal instance, WUC is economically self-sufficient and competent in revenue management raising enough takings from the water billing and subsidies to cover operational costs, investments and debt servicing. However the corporation finds itself with debt from one of its main shareholder, government, which has been assisting to spread messages of wise water usage and timely payment of bills to domestic users though it is yet to pay theirs.

The debts portion by government is part of the sum unpaid to the corporation which includes the domestic and businesses, the funds that would otherwise have been channeled elsewhere to improve the performance of the organisation. WUC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mmetla Masire confirmed to Weekend Post in an interview this week that “yes it is true that government owes us around 320 million pula in unpaid water bill. The domestic or the public owes us 340 million pula. The other one is business which owes us about 120 million pula.”

The corporation has made it public that they will immediately embark on massive disconnections for unpaid bills to all owing adding that their strategy for collecting the balance due is effective. “Even with government although a key critical stakeholder we will be disconnecting at some ministry headquarters even health headquarters as an example although of course excluding some critical departments like hospitals,” Masire warned.

In 2016, a legislator for Francistown South Wynter Mmolotsi had in parliament asked the Minister of Land, Water and Sanitation Services Prince Maele if indeed government owes WUC millions in which he also answered to the affirmation. On behalf of Maele, his assistant minister Itumeleng Moipisi said that the Ministry is liaising with other Ministries in order to encourage them to pay their outstanding bills to the Corporation.

He also said then that every quarter, his Ministry would be submitting the government water bills status to Cabinet in an effort to improve the situation. However Moipisi then told Parliament that though the government owes huge amount of money to the utility, they do not believe that could affect the corporation negatively.

Meanwhile when presenting the budget speech of 2018 on Monday, Minister of Finance and Development Planning Kenneth Mathambo highlighted that the Utility Corporation is amongst parastatals that are under-performing. According to Mathambo, state-owned enterprises that made losses during the period under review includes Water Utilities which recorded a net loss of P137.6 million in 2017, from a net profit of P119.4 million in 2016.

This, notwithstanding, that the utility is owed over 800 million pula - part of it by government. Instead the Finance Minister highlighted that Water Utilities has been allocated an amount of P562.00 million to cover only operational costs and restructuring of the Corporation.



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