Fri 19th Oct 2007

Water price increases - another nail in your coffin

Water is life. Millions of people die each year from drought and water-borne diseases. In SVG, we are blessed with an abundance of high-quality drinking water. Prior to independence in 1979, water was free with standpipes positioned all over SVG. As of 1st October 2007, the incompetent ULP regime is putting water further beyond the reach of poor people with an unjustified price increase.

The ULP regime lacks economic intelligence. The Prime Minister has needlessly increased the price of water giving two ridiculous reasons:

the burden of CWSA subsidizing solid waste management operations; foreign exchange rate losses by CWSA.

Both these reasons are weak and lack substance. There is no reason to punish Vincentians for ULP regime inadequacies and increase water prices. Subsidizing solid waste operation by $1.5m annually is absolutely unnecessary and is pure ignorance by the ULP regime.

SVG Green Party demands legislation be enacted in November 2007 to make the solid waste management unit (SWMU) an independent statutory body. This would put an end to the subsidizing of SWMU by CWSA and bring water prices down.

The excuse based on exchange rate losses is loose talk and very unfortunate to come from the Minister of Finance. This problem relates to a major mistake by the Board of Directors of CWSA buying a debt based on floating exchange rates. It is outrageous for the Prime Minister to blame exchange rates, when the real excuse is a major weakness in the management of CWSA.

There is also the question of the ULP regime charging environmental tax twice. It charges environmental tax on imported used vehicles to SVG, but 8 per cent of this tax goes to SWMU. Then we are forced to pay an additional solid waste environment tax. SWMU should be operated as a profit making business.

Many people have told the Leader of SVG Green Party, Ivan O'Neal, that Vincentians should not be charged an increase in water prices, because we have an abundance of fresh water in SVG. Countries such as Barbados do not have good rivers like us and have to pay to process or buy-in water.

The accumulative affect of high electricity prices, 15% VAT, having to buy school books and uniforms, the high cost of living, and now higher water charges, is devastating poor and low-waged people. They are struggling to survive.

People in leeward side told Ivan O'Neal that the overall social and economic pressure is a major cause of crime. They said people are living under so much pressure, and that hinders peoples' ability to reason - consequently, the least disagreement turns into a serious crime.

This is a serious finding by SVG Green Party. This illustrates that the wider the gap between low wages and the high cost of living (and remember a substantial amount of the population have no wages and unemployed and so worse off), the more serious crime will increase.

The ULP regime's policies are not good for Vincentians. They are wrecklessly blundering their way through economic management, and we the people, are suffering. We are suffering for the ULP regime's obvious lack of ability.

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