There are no plans to privatise the Water and Sewage Authority, assures Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales, who says it simply is not a feasible option for this country.
This comes a day after WASA’s Acting CEO, Alan Poon King, was relieved of his duties, in what Government says is a bid to restructure the organisation.
“We can’t afford to privatise WASA. WASA plays too much of an important role in the stability of the country. To put your only water agency or water management company in private hands, I think, would expose and undermine the public’s interest,” the minister stated.
Minister Gonzales added: “The Government has absolutely no decision to privatise the organisation. As a matter of fact, it has not even entered our discussion when we were doing a review of the water sector in Trinidad and Tobago. The whole notion of putting WASA in private hands is not one that has ever entered our discussions.”
The Public Utilities Minister was speaking on CNC3’s The Morning Brew and admitted that WASA has been failing on multiple fronts as a company. He says that’s why the organisation is in being restructured and re-engineered, at all levels.
“The government is of the view that any kind of restructuring or reorganisation of the Water and Sewerage Authority must start and must be driven from the management level,” he explains.
“There are other serious and deep-seated institutional issues,” the minister points out. “From a financial perspective, an HR perspective, technology, the operations area, the capacity to drill for new water to bring into the grid—these are all issues we must attack, as well. However, we cannot undertake these without a team of managers that shares the vision of the government to bring about the level of transformation needed.”
“Government is of the view that we need a strong team of managers to help drive the level of transformation from within the organisation,” he added.
Minister Gonzales says one of the first things on government’s agenda is an assessment of the state company’s human resources.
“The first order of business is to conduct a very in-depth HR audit and to identify those areas of over-employment,” he noted.
“You also have to bear in mind that as we seek to transform and re-engineer an organisation, it creates additional opportunities for employment. Bringing about modern changes and incorporating new technologies will create a number of opportunities for young people, especially in ICT and software development, among others,” he said.
The Public Utilities Minister asserts the sole purpose of WASA’s transformation is to ensure the company can bring water into the taps of all communities across the country.