‘One of the problems I have with the increase is just how big it is’: Dr. Thomson Fontaine on water rate increase

UWP Leader Dr. Thomson Fontaine

Political Leader of the United Workers Party (UWP) Dr. Thomson Fontaine has raised concerns as it relates to the recent announcement by the country’s sole water and sewerage company, DOWASCO, on a Water Access Charge that will come into effect on June 1, 2024.

Just last week during a press conference, Manager of DOWASCO Bernard Ettinoffe said large businesses will pay an additional $800 per month, medium-sized businesses will pay $175 per month, small businesses $100 per month, and domestic customers will pay only $15 per month in addition to what they are paying now.

Ettinoffe said the increase is not intended to make a profit for DOWASCO, but will help the company to meet all of its loan payments.

However, Dr. Fontaine who spoke on Q-95 Radio said this is a big increase imposed on the citizens of Dominica. He also argues that the government is not giving citizens normal increases that will allow them to match those increases from utility companies.

“One of the problems I have with the increase is just how big it is, this one-time major increase,” he argued.

According to him, one cannot doubt that utilities will rise over time because costs always increase.

“I think the way you normally do that you impose those increases gradually over time,” Dr. Fontaine noted. “So, this year you put 50 cents, next year you put $1.00, so at the end of a 10-year period you get to do what you want to do, rather than not do anything for 10 years, and in the 10th year, you are just putting $15. I think that is where the problem is.”

He argued that the increase is a shock, especially to families who have already budgeted to pay their bills.

“It can throw people off, it can throw off budgets…,” Dr. Fontaine remarked. “Fifteen dollars is probably bus fare for a week for some students.”

Fontaine signaled some time ago when the IMF released its report, that the public would see an increase in their water bills.

He also predicted that the Value Added Tax (VAT) would be reintroduced on electricity service.

“Because the problem that we have is people’s incomes are not matching, are not going up,” Dr. Fontaine remarked.

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  1. Gone Are The Days
    May 15, 2024

    Water IN DOMINICA, should be subsidized by the government. We are not to manage WATER like the other riverless, waterless islands.
    You are voted in and supported to find ways to achieve this basic need, more so than housing which is also a basic need. End of story!

  2. May 12, 2024

    Fontaine, stop finding faults with everything just because you are not in power. Your Economic Conference will yield no fruits. Find something better to do with yourself. In other words, stop whining and grinning.

    • Let's Face It
      May 14, 2024

      Ya, but do you not find it’s a big increase, and that a gradual increase would be better absorbed by the citizens with less impact?

  3. Conscious
    May 9, 2024

    Dominicans should invest in rain barrel systems. The lord has blessed us with free rain water. The bills can be decreased by fifty percent.
    Rain water for laundry, toilet, bath, plants,
    Double stop valves to accommodate the system
    Put filters on rain water system.

  4. Long-term Results
    May 9, 2024

    Fontaine is right. The increase can be either pro-business or anti-business. Like the geothermal fiasco signed away to a foreign company for 25 years, these have all the features of people who are really not business minded. We need change, and like Barbados found Mia by trial and error, only change can put us in a positive position to find those among us within 20yrs or less. We will.

  5. Skerro
    May 8, 2024

    wicked they wicked for domi nica to have all that river lord help us

  6. May 8, 2024

    No surprise that this increase is opposed by Fontaine. It is indeed a shocker when large business have to pay an additional $800, medium business $175 and small business $100 it puts unnecessary pressures on the business this should have been done in stages. Increase in water rates are long overdue as the cost to DOWASCO for getting safe water to our homes and businesses has increased. Hopefully there can be a rethink before June 1st.

  7. Mark
    May 8, 2024

    Dr.Fontaine, if a rate hike of $15. per month is such a shock to families, that this miniscule increase would throw off budgets, this leads me to believe those families are already living on the edges and are very poor planners. You cannot live on the edges of life and as an economist, I am certain you would never advise someone to do so.
    I agree that increases are better dealt with if they’re done on a gradual basis but it’s too late now for this increase so let’s just suck it up and deal with it.

    • Pat
      May 15, 2024

      The increase won’t throw out the budgets of you well-to-do people so you won’t feel that pain. Dominica definitely does NOT have the income and extra income that you have. I know you well-to-do people are thinking ‘why don’t they ask their dads’? Insensitive money grabbers of the recent past 20 years.

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