BVI’s water production will always need subsidy — Penn
Health Minister Marlon Penn has argued that the BVI’s water production and distribution network will always require a subsidy but said it is important that this is minimised as much as possible.
Penn made the suggestion as legislators recently had debates in the House of Assembly (HOA) about the transformation of the Water & Sewerage Department into a statutory body.
According to the Health Minister, the Department currently runs at a cost of close to $40 million per year. He argued that if the current trend continues as the Department transitions to a statutory body, the cost burden will continue as a problem for the public.
“We do not have a water production problem in this territory. I see the water running down the street every day,” Penn said. “We have a distribution problem and that distribution problem is going to require significant capital investments to be able to address those issues.”
He said if legislators are serious about their task in transforming the Department to a statutory body, then they have to commit to the necessary infrastructural and capital investment required to fix the real problem facing water and sewerage in the territory.
“There’s going to always be some need for subsidy to the water production or water delivery in this territory. There’s always going to be some need for some type of subsidy,” Penn added.
He said a strategic plan was required to assist in showing how to face the distribution issue combined with a phased approach and a clear method.
Penn argued that once the distribution problem is fixed, a better picture will emerge of the consumption needs of the territory; since many persons are currently not receiving the water that is being produced locally.