The Sunday Leader

NWSDB ‘Forced’ To Pay Employees Higher Bonus

by Ifham Nizam

  • Employees of the NWSDB demand an annual bonus and productivity payment 
  •  Ministry of Finance had approved the payment of bonuses 
  • Sri Lanka is heading towards possible water scarcity
The employees of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) have demanded an annual bonus and productivity payment of Rs. 37,500 which is higher than the actual bonus which needs to be paid, The Sunday Leader reliably learns.

Informed sources said that annual bonus and productivity payment to the NWSDB’s employees had been usually worked out on the basis of past performance over a period of one year.

However, the trade union has changed the normal criteria, citing a trade union action and demanded the amount payable for 2014 which was Rs. 27,840 per eligible employee to be increased to Rs. 37,500.

In 2015 the approved payment was Rs. 25,000 per employee, but again due to the trade union action, the board paid Rs. 37,500.

The annual bonus and productivity payment to the NWSDB’s employees for 2016 according to the performance during the period is Rs. 24,667.

However, the Board of Directors of the NWSDB agreed to pay Rs. 37,500 to all eligible employees in line with the amounts that were paid in 2014 and 2015 and the payment will be made out of NWSDB’s funds.

The Sunday Leader learns that the Ministry of Finance had approved the payment of bonuses amounting to Rs. 398 million, under a few conditions.

Accordingly, if the water board employees should strictly ensure achieving the targets set by the government to reach 60 per cent pipe borne water coverage by 2020 and recommended not to increase the workforce of the NWSDB until the entity reaches the level of operationally breakeven while taking early action to automate its billing and revenue collection systems.

The Ministry of Finance has also stressed that the NWSDB should be brought under the regulatory purview of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka, who now regulates only the electricity sector, in order to streamline the project implementation and efficient business operations.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Finance had asked the Ministry of City Planning and Water Supply to initiate necessary action in this regard together with the Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL) and NWSDB and report on the progress to the Cabinet of Ministers on or before  March 20, 2017.

The general thinking of a new era, especially after the financial crisis, is that government enterprises should act as a facilitator and a regulator.

Also, there is a strong demand from public to public sector organisations to change their culture and practices completely if they are to match the performance of their private-sector counterparts.

Every government makes promises to give jobs  to the public sector when they want to come into power and most of the governments do so.

Sri Lanka may boast about 100 per cent electrification, but not 100 per cent supply of water. The Water Board has only covered 30% of the population.

 

Water scarcity

Sri Lanka is also heading towards possible water scarcity and the NWSDB has already warned of a curtailment of the water supply if the prevailing dry weather continues, while insisting that drinking water was now available for only two more months.

The PUCSL was established under the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka Act No. 35 of 2002, to regulate three utilities, including electricity, water services and petroleum sectors. However, the electricity sector is the only sector the regulator is covering so far due to delays in effecting the necessary legal frameworks for petroleum and water service industries.

Regulators are there to monitor the performance, make guidelines and regulations to serve the public better through an improved and efficient utility. Lack of a regulator in an  important service like water will lead to problems for the public costing more losses to the government.

It is time to regulate these industries, keeping the word of the good governance and provide a better service to the public for the tax they are paying, informed sources stressed.

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