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Gov't closer to waste management public-private partnership

BY DEANDRA MORRISON
Online reporter
morrisond@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, October 26, 2017

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The Government said it is one step closer to divesting the collection and disposal of solid waste under a public-private partnership (PPP).

Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the revelation at the Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday when the State presented the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) with 11 new compactor garbage trucks.

According to Holness, the Solid Waste Management Enterprise Team that he had established in October last year has completed its prefeasibility study.

The team has been mandated to manage the process of the Government's waste to energy programme, contract out solid waste management and collection, and manage the divestment of the Riverton City landfill.

“There are services that Government is providing that really, the Government need not be in that service, and one of them is garbage collection,” the prime minister said.

“I strongly hold the view that whatever service the private sector could provide more efficiently and more effectively, the Government should step away from that and allow the private sector to provide it,” Holness added.

According to the NSWMA, the 11 trucks bring to 28 the total number of new compactor units it has received since the start of the financial year.

Head of the Enterprise Team, Lyttleton Shirley, during his overview at the ceremony, said the team's effort will, over time, allow the NSWMA to focus on being a regulator rather than an operator.

He said the prefeasibility study concluded that waste could be harvested and converted to anything through mechanisms other than incineration, such as anaerobic digestion or landfill gas to energy. Some disposal sites, he said, may need to be converted to sanitary landfills or closed.

“There is an estimated one million tons of waste that is produced annually, of which it is said that 50 per cent is organic material and provides a viable basis for the economic sustainability of a PPP,” stated Shirley

He also said that some policy and legislative changes may be required to support PPP structure.

Shirley said that before mid-2018 the enterprise team would be able to recommend more specifics to the Government about a PPP transaction “that will be employed to select a reputable private investor to design, build, finance, maintain, and operate the waste collection, transportation and treatment services in a holistic manner, while providing some residual revenue to the Government”.

Meanwhile, Holness pointed out that the NSWMA was a “classic case” of the compromise of service quality and standards when the government is both the regulator and service provider because the authority is not able to independently carry out its role as a regulator of waste management due to various constraints.

He cited the complaints of environmental lobbyists about air quality as an example of an issue that the authority should be addressing but was not. “The solution to that is being touted as enforcement,” he said, but he argued that public sector reform was the “deeper problem”.

The prime minister insisted that in order to address that,“we have to reform the NSWMA as a part of the bigger picture of public sector reform to ensure that it is truly a regulator that is regulating the private service provider so that they can truly enforce on them, and that is the direction [in which] we are going”.

“We estimate that we need about 128 trucks to adequately serve the country, but the Government should not be running a trucking service, so the investment that we are making now will become a part of the assets that will be divested and a part of the investments that will eventually become a part of the PPP,” Holness said.

He said that the US$1.658 million used to pay for the 11 trucks came from the pockets of taxpayers, specifically those who pay property taxes.

“This is not a loan, we did not borrow this money, and this is not a grant, so it wasn't given to us. This money is coming from the taxes that you are paying, this is coming from the property taxes you are paying.

“Everyone needs to pay their property taxes so that the burden is spread fairly and efficiently over the population so that there are more resources available to the country and to the agency (NSWMA) to collect,” the prime minister added.

He stated that if the private sector came on board to help with issues such as waste management, then the expenses would be less burdensome on taxpayers.

Meanwhile, the NSWMA said Southern Parks and Markets Waste Management Limited, Western Parks and Markets Waste Management Limited, and Metropolitan Parks and Markets Waste Management Limited would each receive three of the new units, while North Eastern Parks and Markets Waste Management Limited will receive two.


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