September 18, 2012

Government Writes-Off $14 Million Water Debt


More than 25-thousand Fijian households, businesses, schools and places of worship will benefit from a government decision to waive the debts they owe to the Water Authority of Fiji for years of unpaid water and sewerage bills.

The Bainimarama Government is going to forgive almost 14-million dollars in unpaid bills, a decision that benefits about 100-thousand Fijians throughout the country.

The Bainimarama Government recognises that some customers simply cannot afford to pay their outstanding bills. Many of these arrears have built up over the years and settling them is beyond the means of many ordinary people.

Attorney General and Minister for Public Enterprise Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said "Many people have been worried about how they would meet their obligation and this decision means that they can now rest easy. We are prepared to forgo this revenue because we are mindful that making ends meet is a challenge for many Fijian families, schools and places of worship. The Bainimarama Government is responding to their needs", he said.

The waiver applies to 25,529 accounts with the following partial breakdown: 22,345 domestic account customers or ordinary households and 954 schools and religious organisations.

Customers have a three month window from October 1st to December 31st to make contact with The Water Authority of Fiji to discuss their cases. Each account is going to be investigated individually and the debt forgiven on a case-by-case basis. A media campaign is being mounted to advertise the initiative and encourage customers to come forward.

According to the Water Authority, plumbing leakages are the main reason why some customers have incurred high bills and got behind in their payments. More than 20-thousand accounts suffered from plumbing leakages, with total losses of $6.3-million dollars.

The Water Authority is urging its customers to make sure they make the necessary repairs and minimise water losses. It warned that the waiver is a once-off exercise to relieve the great burden on customers and that the onus is now on them to get their plumbing fixed.

"We are prepared to write off these bills and make a clean start as part of our determination to deliver services to Fijians," said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.

The Water authority of Fiji will be making an announcement with more details later this week.

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