Several major challenges confronted GWI during 2005 as the utility struggled to consolidate the gains of the first three years of existence. The expected internal challenges of an infant company undergoing transformation were compounded by the challenges of responding to the serious environmental threats imposed by the prolonged
flooding of the coastland Region 4 (GWI Division 3) during the first half of the year. As a public utility, GWI was obligated to fulfill its role of ensuring adequate and safe water and sewerage services to the affected communities throughout this catastrophic event, while continuing to fulfill its obligations to its customers throughout the rest of the country. The Management and staff deserve much commendation for their performance to that crisis. In striving to position itself towards achieving its vision and mission the Utility continued to experience many difficulties. The performance during the year, in terms of achieving its organizational targets, fell below expectations in most areas. The financial performance of the company was particularly disappointing. This was also the case in the area of Customer Relations and Commercial Services. Billing and collections were below targets, attributed mainly to ongoing problems with the existing computerized Billing system which caused severe delays to bill production. Despite the approval of a tariff increase by the Public Utility Corporation in July 2005, the Utility was unable to capitalise on this to enhance its financial position due to these problems. Further, our inability to fill critical senior vacancies coupled with cash flow problems also contributed significantly to this poor performance.
On the positive side, a new Managing Director, Mr. Michael Clarke, assumed duties at the beginning of the year and injected renewed vigour and enthusiasm to the company. There were also important appointments at the Executive Directorship level. The management of the company was restructured and operational changes implemented to ensure more effective functioning and improved service to customers. Relationships between the Board and Management also improved significantly facilitated by several important internal and external interventions.
The procurement process for the new billing system was well advanced and a suitable customer information and billing system (CIMBS) was recommended for acquisition by the end of the year. This, along with the implementation of a new accounting system, is anticipated to significantly enhance the quality and timeliness of billing and all associated accounting and customer relations matters during the next financial period. The company, its shareholders and customers could therefore look forward to improved performance and sustained development in 2006.
William Wilson (Dr.)
Chairman, Board of Directors