Central government owes the BVI Electricity Corporation more than $13.38 million and the Water and Sewerage Department more than $3.42 million, according to Premier Dr. Orlando Smith.
The premier disclosed those figures in response to questions from Opposition Leader Andrew Fahie (R-D1) during last Thursday’s House of Assembly sitting.
The high arrears to the BVIEC are due to various factors, according to Dr. Smith (R-at large), who also serves as the minister of finance. Some responsibility lies with the accounting officers of different arms of government, who need to properly manage their expenses, he explained.
“It is the responsibility of the ministries/departments to ensure that once bills are received they are processed in a timely manner as payment can only be made once these bills are processed,” the premier said. “Unfortunately, this process has not been as timely as it should have been in some instances.”
He also said some departments may have been under-budgeted, preventing them from paying their expenses.
Additionally, Dr. Smith mentioned that the electricity that is used to operate water plants throughout the territory contributed to government’s high level of indebtedness to the BVIEC.
As for the arrears with the WSD, the premier said the issue dates back to 2004.
“It is uncertain what transpired then, but my understanding is that there may be a number of factors that can account for the arrears, including improper billing, as well as untimely billing and payments,” he said.
See the April 27, 2017 edition for full coverage.