Tuesday, August 2, 2011

NAWEC dwells in financial turmoil

Gambia government ministries, the parastatals and some influential economic operators in the country have dipped NAWEC into a financial difficulty by accumulating huge bills payable to the national utility company over a long period of time.

The financial situation of the National Water and Electricity Company is in jeopardy and disorder as the government and its parastatals, as well as some private institutions and individuals, continue to consume NAWEC’s services “without paying adequately” for them thereby accumulating tens of millions of dalasis due to the utility company.
As at 21 June this year, NAWEC is owed over two billion dalasis by the above-mentioned institutions. Eleven government ministries, as well as the Office of the President, have consumed a total of over thirty-two million one hundred and twenty thousand dalasis (D32,120,000) worth of NAWEC services such as electricity and water, which is yet to be paid, according to a recent release by NAWEC. 
The Ministry of Defence has the highest debt among the lot.

Government-related accounts and parastatals, including the national broadcaster - GRTS, the Green Industries, and the Presidential Villa, also owe NAWEC a total of more than fifty million dalasis (D50,000,000).  GRTS alone owes over fourteen million dalasis (D14,000,000) to NAWEC.

The seven area councils in the country put together owes NAWEC over one hundred and twenty-five million three and seventy-six thousand dalasis (D125,376,000), of which Brikama Area Council owes the highest.  Some private institutions and individuals including Amadou Samba, Mustapha Njie, Ocean Bay Hotel, Kanilai Farms, and Taf Constructions owe NAWEC almost eleven million dalasis (D11,000,000).

Earlier on, the finance director of NAWEC, Alhagie Jallow, has said the company will do everything within its ability to recover these arrears “to help the institution to provide the services it should be providing”.  “We do not see a way out if the necessary steps are not taken,” he said.  
However, the company has taken an initial step to recover the debts as it has sent a “comprehensive list of its debtors” to the National Assembly so that the legislators can use the powers bestowed upon them by the 1997 Constitution to “recover in full all debts due and outstanding to NAWEC”. 
Accordingly, the two giant committees of the National Assembly - the Public Account Committee and the Public Enterprise Committee - initially scheduled 11 and 12 July to convene an extra-ordinary session that could put measures in place to help NAWEC recover it debts.
However, a press release from the National Assembly, published on 8 July, states that the extra-ordinary session has been postponed till further notice, with no reason  advanced for the stalemate.
NAWEC has incurred an operational loss of more than seven hundred and sixty-one million dalasis (D761 million) between 2008 and 2010, which has impeded the revenue base of the company and continues to affect its operational obligations.
Due to this huge drawback in revenue and the continued rise in debt owed to it, the National Water and Electricity Company is facing serious difficulties in paying its suppliers.

As at the end of 2010 the company was owing its major suppliers D830 million, up from over D378 million it was owing them by 2008.

To assuage its predicament and meet its operational obligations, NAWEC has increased its electricity tariffs.


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