COVID-19 has dealt a devastating blow to the Water and Sewerage Corporation’s (WSC) cash flow, WSC Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson told Guardian Business yesterday, adding that WSC’s second-highest revenue earner, Abaco, recorded a 98 percent decline in payments in April, compared to April 2019.
With WSC still barred from carrying out disconnections because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Gibson appealed for Bahamians who can, to continue paying their water bills.
He explained that in the case of Abaco, Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19 have caused a 94 percent decline in cash flow for WSC year-to-date.
He said, last April, Abaco brought in a little more than $230,000. In comparison, payments to the corporation from Abaco last month totaled $5,625.84
And with the corporation’s second highest revenue earner still out of commission, WSC has had to look to New Providence for earnings, which has suffered a 41 percent decline due to COVID-19.
“We had already been experiencing a downward spiral since Hurricane Dorian with the loss of our second-largest revenue base, Abaco,” said Gibson.
“I continue to encourage those persons who can make a payment to come into the corporation and do so.
“Obviously, these bills are accruing and what I have found is once we made the decision not to continue disconnections during this period, with the removal of that threat, there were many persons who simply opted not to pay and it has us in a really devastating position in terms of cash flow.”
Year-to-date, Gibson said, the corporation has seen a 28 percent decline in collections.
He said May has already begun to trend in the same direction as April and March, which saw a $1.78 million drop in revenue, or a 38 percent decrease as compared to March 2019.
“As such, we are encouraging persons to come in and make a payment and we understand that these bills will be accruing and will still be there,” Gibson said.
He added that WSC will eventually have to make a tariff adjustment, which he said has not happened since 1999, however, he contended that it will not happen soon.
The corporation, he said, is staring down a receivables column that was decreased from more than $40 million to $30 million over the past three years. But in the midst of COVID-19, WSC is anticipating it to climb back up.