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MDAs owe NRWB K2.9 billion

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By Wezzie Gausi:

The Northern Region Water Board (NRWB) has told the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (Pac) that public institutions owe the board about K2.9 billion in bills.

NRWB acting Chief Executive Officer Francis Munthali told the committee on Wednesday that the board has since engaged the government for a possible bailout.

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“This is because the board has a financing deficit to procure and migrate all customers to prepaid metering. In addition, some public institutions have exempted parts of their establishments from installation of prepaid water meters and these continue to accumulate arrears,” Munthali said.

Pac Chairperson Mark Botomani said it is sad that government institutions are failing to settle bills.

However, he said some of the challenges the board is facing come due to lack of proper mechanisms on how to collect debt.

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“You see, this challenge is not just happening to NRWB but it’s cross-cutting. These institutions need to have strategies on how best they will be collecting money from government institutions.

“At the same time, it is worrying that each time we pass the budget, there are allocations to utilities. What is that money used for? We will be engaging the comptroller of statutory corporations to see how best we can help these boards,” Botomani said.

Over the weekend, the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Climate said the Ministry of Water and Sanitation engaged the committee to ask for a second phase water tariff increment.

The country’s water boards raised tariffs by an average of 52 percent in November 2021.

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