…as GWI urged to improve its overall servicesGuyanese will see an increase in the rates for water effective October 2018 following a decision taken by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to approve the request of the Guyana Water Inc (GWI).The PUC said in a statement that the final increase will be made effective from October 2019. It said the implementation of the increases in a graduated format was an attempt to alleviate the financial burden on consumers when compared to the last implemented charges as awarded under an order of 2005.But the PUC said it also recognised that the increase with respect to the proposedGWI’s panel at one of the Public Utilities Commission hearingsmonthly consumption charge would initially result in great hardship to the rural areas. As a result, the Commission has determined that there would be a graduated rate for consumers who are currently paying $60.90 per cubic metre.In its filing, the GWI has requested a two-tiered rate tariff for its metered pensioners and a flat rate for its non-metered pensioners. The aim of this request is to offer a reduced tariff to this category of consumers. As such, the PUC said it has favourably considered this request.As such, the new charges for metered residential consumers will comprise a fixed monthly charge of $250 and a monthly consumption charge of $86 per cubic metre for consumers in the $60.90 per cubic metre category. On the other hand, all customers will pay $112 per cubic metre. However, with the second increase, the monthly fixed charge will be $500 and the monthly consumption charge $112 per cubic metre.Meanwhile, the new monthly fixed charge for unmetered residential consumers as of this year will be $250, along with a monthly consumption charge of $1100. From October 2018, these charges will be increased to $500 and $1450 respectively.While there will not be any fixed monthly charges for metered pensioners, a consumption charge of $74 will be applied for every cubic metre for the first ten cubic metres. There will also be an increase to $112 for each cubic metre thereafter. For unmetered pensioners, they will incur no fixed charges while their monthly consumption charge will be a flat fee of $740 per month. Further, there will be no new charges for metered non-residential and unmetered non-residential consumers.However, as a pre-condition to applying these new tariffs, the PUC has mandated that the GWI improve its system and, therefore, recommended that it implement a system which would allow pensioners to be added to its database which may require a period of time beyond the GWI-proposed 2018 timeline.The company was also urged to sanitise its database and create the necessary platforms. One of the recommendations is to have a consumer database, which should be continuously sanitised to reflect legitimate debtors. This should be accomplished no later than June 30, 2019, while the collection rates on annual billings should increase incrementally each year to a level of 96 per cent by the end of December 2020.The PUC said all disconnected consumers who have not been legitimately reconnected should be revisited at least within 60 days of being disconnected, to ensure that these consumers were not illegally reconnected and the collection of outstanding balances should be vigorously pursued.