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Government departments are among the biggest debtors of the cash-strapped Water Utilities Corporation.
They owe a combined amount of P300 million between them.
The Thebepatshwa military airbase is among the top three debtors.
This emerged as the WUC chief executive officer Mmetla Masire appeared before Parliament Statutory Committee.
In total WUC is owed a total of P700 million.
Other than the Botswana Defence Force one of the biggest debtors is the Ministry of Education, followed by the Ministry of Health..
Appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises, Masire told the committee that the unpaid bill debts had at one point reached the P1 billion mark.
He noted that the Corporation’s financial position is improving compared to the past financial years, closing with an operating loss of P137.4 million in March 2017 compared to P268.6 million reported in the period ended March 2016. Masire stated
that this was mainly due to improvements in cost containment and collections and tariff increase.
“A lot still needs to be done in the areas of cost containment and debt collection to ensure long term financial sustainability. This will position the Corporation to undertake projects that will bring about improved service delivery across the country,” said Masire.
He also told the committee that several initiatives have been undertaken to improve customer service.
“To improve overall organizational efficiencies, the corporation is currently implementing a restructuring exercise named i-Temogo”, he said.
He is of the view that through the new structure the corporation is expected to be more customer centric through the introduction of a customer service functionality. He said management Areas have been empowered to ensure accountability of operational, financial and customer processes.
Quizzed on the estimated customer bills, Masire said WUC continues to put more effort in improving the quality of meter reading, billing and collection.
He stated that currently the corporation’s billing efficiency is at 92 percent. He added that more emphasis now placed on resolving the billing and invoicing exceptions to be able to get to 100 percent. Masire said however, the issue of incorrect bills in some instances remains a challenge as at times the corporation has to estimate due to no access to premises, especially in urban areas and major villages.
“WUC continues to put in place measures to significantly reduce the debt to improve its working capital. The corporation is also carrying out a detailed analysis of the debt to recommend write-off of the old debt that was taken over with customers from Department of Water Affairs and Local Authorities under the
Water Sector Reforms Programme, either with no record or aged,” said Masire.