The year 2003 was one of consolidation for the newly established Guyana Water Incorporated. The much anticipated DFID Performance-Based Management Contract took effect on 1st January with Severn Trent Water International (STWI) assuming full responsibility for the day-to-day management of the company. The transition to this status was well accomplished by the interim management team under the guidance of the Board of Directors during the latter half of 2002. The necessary instruments to facilitate good corporate governance within the utility were instituted, and the foundations for effective management of the utility were well established. Thus, GWI embarked on its mission of providing improved and affordable water supply and sewerage services to its consumers on a sound footing.
The performance targets for the Management Contract were synchronized with the operational targets specified in the GWI License issued by Government in November 2002. The first year of the Management Contract provided great challenges with the new management forging ahead with the reorganization and consolidation of the utility and mobilizing the necessary resources to satisfy the performance targets specified in the Contract and GWI License.
The Management Contract required that STWI provide five (5) long-term positions to spearhead the Corporate Management Team. These included the Managing Director, three Executive Directors (Operations, Corporate Planning and Customer Relations & Commercial Services) and the Hinterland Manager. Three of these posts (Managing Director, Executive Directors of Operations and Corporate Planning) were occupied throughout the year. However, the positions of Customer Services Executive Director and Hinterland Manager remained unoccupied for the most of the year; the original candidates having resigned within two months of being mobilized. This situation impacted negatively on the successful implementation of the Management Contract and the performance of the company, especially in these critical areas. Mobilization of various short-term experts as provided for in the contract somewhat mitigated the impact of these vacancies.
Within the company there was noticeable excitement among staff as the change management processes took effect. Positive attitudinal changes were evident as workers developed a greater sense of pride in their company with its newly defined vision and mission. The advent of the Management Contractor served to raise expectations of staff at all levels and was manifested by enhanced efforts throughout the company. There were, as expected, some negative influences which sought to impede the change management process and retard the development thrust. However, these forces never gained a foothold within the utility and proved to be futile.
The financial status of the company remained critical throughout the year. The cash flow situation was severely affected by GWI’s inability to achieve revenue collection targets. Operational costs, exacerbated by the extremely high electricity costs, impacted negatively on the liquidity of the company. Management continuously lamented the lack of working capital and its effect on the ability of GWI to honour its commitments to its creditors.
There were some successes within the utility during the year. The company continued to benefit from heavy financial inputs from donors in the form of loans and grants for capital projects. These included projects funded by DFID, EU, IDA and CDB. Major projects completed during 2003 included the Pouderoyen Water Treatment Plant (funded by the European Union), the Bartica Major Scheme (funded by the World Bank), LBI Major Scheme (funded by the World Bank), and Eccles Major Scheme (funded by the World Bank). The Linden Emergency project was initiated with funding provided by the European Union to address emergency rehabilitation works to the Linden water supply system. Several minor schemes funded through Government of Guyana funds were also executed throughout the coast land and in the hinterland. The completion of these capital projects resulted in improved levels of service and brought much relief to consumers who hitherto experienced great inconvenience due to inadequate water supplies.
Despite the challenges, the utility has been able to consolidate and forge ahead with its mission to provide improved service to its customers. The new STWI Head management team has established control and has remained focused on satisfying its contractual obligations. Its plans for the management of the utility and guiding it towards satisfying its License targets were well conceptualized in the Inception Report which was presented after the first six months of the contract. For the final quarter of the year all five long-term positions were occupied and these were ably supported by the local Executive Directors of Finance and Human Resources. The critical vacancies within the Customer Service Department were filled and this promoted improved performance within this critical department.
The Board is encouraged by these developments and continues to provide support and promote a harmonious working relationship with management. The Board is committed to provide all necessary support to facilitate management in achieving its objectives and to motivate staff to perform in an atmosphere of job satisfaction. The success of GWI as a utility is highly dependent on the support of all stakeholders and, in particular, its customers playing their role in contributing to the development of the company. GWI attaches strong value to this partnership with its consumers.
As Chairman it is my desire to promote strong relationships with all stakeholders and together ensure that our company progresses steadily towards achieving its targets for the succeeding years of its License.
William A. Wilson (Dr.)
Chairman, Board of Directors