With staffing cut by over 300, GWI says financial stability returned

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The Guyana Water Inc. (GWI), which over a year ago was burdened by a high wage bill among other debts, on Friday said that its actions in recent months have seen the utility company return to financial sustainability.

During a press conference at GWI’s Shelter Belt Headquarters, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Shaik Baksh explained that because of efforts to reduce staffing, the company is now saving some $240 million on an annual basis.

In August 2020, when the government changed, GWI had a staffing of 1, 320 employees but after changes to the organisational structure by the new management and Board, the company now has a total of 998 employees.

“Financial sustainability has been achieved and we are in a stable financial position and by that, we have reduced any need for an overdraft facility [at the bank] … we have a fairly good cash flow to meet our commitments,” Baksh told reporters.

The reduction in staffing, the CEO said, has had no adverse effect on the company’s scale although GWI is in search of skilled persons to replace those who have since resigned.

“Our productivity ratio has gone up.”

But the CEO said a reduction in employment numbers is not the only reason for the turnaround in the company’s financial situation; he said among the prudent financial management led by a new Finance Director, is a reduction in electricity costs.

“We have an energy efficiency unit at work to ensure more savings,” Baksh added.

He said important among the help GWI has received is the $8 billion bailout from the government in 2021 as payment to the Guyana Power and Light (GPL).

The CEO said the utility company has also brought down the $800 million it had owed to suppliers in September 2020 to just $50 million.

“That’s what you call financial stability and sustainability… our inventory has improved with more spares, pumps, motors as well as drilling materials which we have on hand,” the CEO added.

He said as part of this process, the company has completed the 2017 and 2018 audit reports with work ongoing on the 2019 report and plans to complete the 2020 – 2021 financial statements by the end of this year.

“So when the time comes for these years we will be up to date with financial reporting.”

The 2017 and 2018 audit report, which deals with the period under the APNU+AFC government, found that millions in inventory (chemicals etc) could not be accounted for.

Baksh said it seemed to be an issue with proper storage and noted that although some employees have been caught in theft, those are things of the past with better structure now in place for storage and management.

On the revenue collection front, the CEO said customers continue to owe the company billions. Those outstanding sums currently stand at $3 billion but the company launched a programme on Friday where customers can pay 50 % of their owed sums and get free reconnection of service.

Usually, reconnection costs $7, 500 but customers are also invited to sign up for a payment plan.

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