ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) has said its new disconnection policy does not apply to domestic consumers but geared at recovering debt from some of its chief debtors, the commercial community.
Chairman APUA Board Clarvis Joseph announced last week that consumers owing for one service risk having all their utilities disconnected.
But Joseph told The Big Issues that his statement did not refer to domestic consumers.
“I have never said anything about any domestic consumer because APUA don’t really have problems with domestic consumers,” Joseph said.
He said, “APUA has problems with a section of the commercial and industrial community.”
According to APUA, it is being owed close to EC $700 million with the government of Antigua being its most delinquent customer.
The private sector is also largely indebted to APUA and Joseph reported that several attempts to recover the debt from local businesses have been futile.
“Hundreds of agreements have been made and people come in and schedule and re-schedule; then they turn away and don’t pay a penny. I am saying that this is not sustainable,” the APUA boss said.
Meanwhile, a former APUA minister Robin Yearwood has charged the company with using its monopoly in the country as a cover-up for inefficiencies.
“When are you going to run APUA properly?” Yearwood asked in a heated exchange with Joseph.
“Your payroll has almost doubled since we (ALP) left office,” Yearwood charged.
The former government minister also said he was opposed to the removal of standpipes that has been under the scrutiny of APUA following reports of abuse.
“They serve a very important service to the people in Antigua & Barbuda. They are there for people who cannot afford,” he said, adding that the standpipes would also come in handy in case of a fire.