AARON HUMES Reporting: Belize Water Services Limited (BWS) has objected to the initial decision of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issued on January 30 for a 6.4% rate increase for water for all parts of Belize except Caye Caulker.
Now, says Director of Water Services for the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), Rudolph Williams, the PUC is in the process of appointing an independent expert to study the matter.
BWS had asked for a 16% increase citing an increase in capital investments. Williams told us that the basis of the objection is a dispute over the PUC’s treatment of contributed capital, that is, funds provided by the Government of Belize for supporting capital investments as well as home owners and others who ask for BWS’s services.
The figure for contributed capital is $7.3 million, up from $6.9 million last year but to be reduced to $4.5 million next year.
The Government submitted in writing that its position is to forego recollection of these funds and so, said Williams, they were subtracted from the regulated asset value (RAV), which currently stands at some $120 million, an increase of $4 million over the last financial year. With a reduced rate of return of 8% applied, Williams argues, BWS’ asked-for increase looked to be too much to the PUC.
The PUC now has 15 days to appoint an independent expert.
The appointed expert then has 30 days to investigate and assess BWS’ claims, after which the PUC has a further 15 days to review before a final decision is issued.
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