Unpaid bills hit Bahrain power projects
Manama, May 10, 2014
By Mohammed Al A'ali
Several electricity and water projects are on hold in Bahrain because of people not paying their bills, according to Minister of State for Electricity and Water Affairs Dr Abdulhussain Mirza.
He has told parliament in writing that 40,553 subscribers (5,158 domestic and 35,395 non-residential) out of around 300,000 were not paying their dues, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
"Seventeen per cent shortfall in revenues means the Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) is owed around BD131.7 million ($348 million). More than 80 per cent of our consumers are committed to payment and the problems we're facing are related to those who don't pay - and it is affecting our finances," said Dr Mirza.
"We have received directives from His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa to look into the cases of all late payers and find solutions. Matters are being addressed on an individual basis," he stated.
"The EWA has 792 cases with large overdue payments in all of Bahrain's five governorates - 570 have complied and agreed to pay, but 222 others refused and we were forced to cut the supply."
Dr Mirza said those who agreed to pay in installments had been given a maximum of 48 months to settle their bills, meaning that if their average consumption was BD20, the monthly payment would be BD40.
"Families listed under the Social Development Ministry are already seeing BD10 waived monthly in line with His Majesty King Hamad's Royal Gesture, which costs us BD1.8 million annually, and we don't cut their power for humanitarian reasons," he said.
"The government allocated BD350 million for last year and this year to meet recurrent expenditure, pay loans and installments owed to development funds by the EWA. Last year, we spent BD288.3 million to buy electricity from Al Ezzel, Al Dur and Hidd Power Plants," he said.
"We have also spent BD45.3 million to pay for gas to operate Sitra and Riffa Power Plants, which we own."
He said this left the EWA with BD16.4 million to meet other expenses and, as an independent government body, it had to collect late payments.
"Late payments are projected at around a total of BD200m for this year and last year, with BD131.7 million still outstanding," said Dr Mirza.
"We are facing trouble carrying out planned projects and if the situation escalates further, then more troubles are expected. The ministry is working to collect its late payments to enable it to serve people in the best way possible." Dr Mirza will be present in parliament on Tuesday to respond to questions from MPs on late utility bill payments and power cuts.-TradeArabia News Service