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May 28, 2018

B.W.S. Challenges Decision of P.U.C. on Water Rates

Rodwell Williams

A third case before the Supreme Court today dealt with an unprecedented move. Belize Water Services Limited is suing the Public Utilities Commission over its decision in an interim review proceeding earlier this year to grant a reduction in water rates of more than six percent.  According to the attorney for B.W.S., Senior Counsel Rodwell Williams, the P.U.C. did not follow proper procedure under law and jeopardized savings for Belizeans.

 

Rodwell Williams, Attorney for Belize Water Services Limited

“B.W.S. takes objection to the entire process on the fundamental ground and principle that yes, the P.U.C. has such a power, but any power is subject to law. And in this case, specifically the law in question requires that this be done only in exceptional circumstances; in other words, neither B.W.S. nor the P.U.C. can seek to invoke annual review proceedings with the view to lower or raise tariffs unless there are exceptional circumstances and the law defines exceptional circumstances. And no exceptional circumstances, we say, exist and therefore there’s no jurisdiction to have done what was done, it’s as simple as that. And secondly, that the natural rights of B.W.S. were infringed because it was given absolutely no notice; in fact, we say that it was initially invited to do an I.R.P., and it declined; and then the P.U.C. simply went about without notice conducting an I.R.P. And we are now challenging their infringement of the law in doing so in the absence of exceptional circumstances. We are in fact challenging the entire procedure; we are saying, you can’t invoke this procedure unless there are exceptional circumstances because we are still within the Full Review Tariff Period, which runs from 2015 to 2020; it has not expired. And yes you have power to do an interim review proceeding, so we are not doubting their legal right to do so; but if you have a right given to you by law, the law also tells you in which circumstances you can exercise that right. And we are saying they are not exercising the right they have under the law, because the law says you do so if there are exceptional circumstances, it sets out a few, and it says those circumstances must be outside the control of the licensee, B.W.S. And even after the fact circumstances that they allude to are not exceptional, and they are not circumstances that are outside the control of B.W.S., as distinct from outside the control of the P.U.C.”

 

The case resumes on June eighteenth after presiding judge Michelle Arana asked for time today to read the submissions presented by both sides. Naima Barrow represents the P.U.C.  The injunction against the P.U.C.’s decision remains in effect.

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1 Response for “B.W.S. Challenges Decision of P.U.C. on Water Rates”

  1. Concerned Citizen says:

    Why is it only these lawyers getting jobs? Now this guy who normally fight for the government will be fighting against the government. All just a show.

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