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 Money flowing like water

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Honeylu
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PostSubject: Money flowing like water   Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:26 am

By Anthony Wilson
Business Editor, Guardian TT

WASA salaries have gone from being a national joke to a point where they are comparable with wages paid by other state-owned companies.

Documents made available to the Business Guardian indicate that Errol Grimes, the CEO of the heavily indebted public utility, receives salary and perks of $936,000 a year.

Apart from his salary, he is entitled to a fully maintained car (with driver) worth $450,000 and has the first option to purchase it at the end of the three-year contract at book value.

The total entitlement of the Wasa chief executive also includes an unlimited entertainment allowance, free gasoline, free telephone (both cellular and land line), free electricity and free cable. The CEO's contract is for three years and there is a clause in it which calls for a minimum annual increment of three per cent of the annual salary.

The opposition in the Senate has sought to get the current Public Utilities Minister Rennie Dumas to answer questions on the compensation of Grimes and WASA managers

The six Wasa general managers receive salary and perks of $652,000 a year. [See sidebar at right]

The Water and Sewerage Act states that the appointment of top managers at Wasa is “subject to the approval of the Minister” of Public Utilities and that salaries of more than $10,000 “shall not be assigned” without the prior approval of the Minister.

The Wasa executives received their salary hikes in late September last year, just before the last general election. The Public Utilities Minister at the time, Martin Joseph, is now the Minister of Housing. Wasa's chairman is Roland Baptiste, a former Chief Personnel Officer.

The salary and perks of the Wasa executive team were increased last year because the remuneration of other workers at Wasa increased, sources said and there was need to maintain a differential between executive management and other staff.

Daily-paid employees signed a new collective agreement in 2001 giving them 46 per cent more as part of the authority's “new policy of equity and relativity in the utility industry”.

The salaries of monthly-paid workers were increased by 33 per cent last year and a new monthly-paid employee structure approved.

The documents reveal that in the period 2000 to 2002, the base salary of the CEO was $36,000 and the directors (now called general managers) received between $22,000 and $24,000.

The CEO's base salary went from $36,000 to $50,000 last year — an increase of 39 per cent — while the base pay of Wasa general managers was increased from a top rate of $24,000 to $35,000 last year — about 48 per cent.

The documents also point out that the revised compensation structure for the Wasa executive management takes account of the fact that these positions are now designated as contract positions.

This means the executive managers no longer have “the permanent status with the associated pension rights and benefits.”

The documents note that the compensation principles for the water sector are different from other business because “all senior managers at Wasa are on call 24 hours a day”.

In an interview in September, Grimes estimated that during last year's wet season nearly 990,000 people – or 80 per cent of the population – received a water supply for at least three-and-a-half days a week.

The improvement in the water supply in the last seven years has resulted from a massive borrowing programme which saw the utility receive $2.4 billion.

Wasa is estimated to have run a deficit of $172 million in the 12-month period ending September 30, 2002.

Timeline

March 14, 2002

WASA board approves a revised management structure for the Authority.

July 25, 2002

Five general manager positions approved by the board

August 22, 2002

Former Public Utilities Minister Martin Joseph ratifies the five management appointments.

September 20, 2002

Cabinet approves the Authority's new organisational structure


The documents reveal that WASA salaries were increased in recent years:

The Chief Executive Officer receives:

• Contract term: three years

• Contract fee: $50,000/month, $600,000/year

• 10 per cent housing allowance: $5,000/month, $60,000/year

• Bonus: 15 per cent of contract fee; $90,000, paid annually

• Gratuity: 25 per cent of contract; $150,000, paid annually

• Overseas travel grant: $2,500/month, $30,000/year

• Professional and club fees: $500/month, $6,000/year

• Minimum annual increment of three per cent of contract fee

• Unlimited entertainment allowance: company to pay bills

• Telephone and utilities: cell and land lines — free.

• Gasoline: free

• Executive level car (up to $450,000), fully maintained by WASA, with driver.

General managers receive:

• Contract term: three years

• Contract fee: $35,000/month, $420,000/year

• 10 per cent housing allowance: $3,500/month, $42,000/year

• Entertainment allowance: WASA pays bills

• Telephone: cell and land lines — free.

• Bonus: 15 per cent of contract fee, $63,000 paid annually

• Gratuity: 25 per cent of contract fee, $105,000 paid annually

• Professional and club fees: $300/month, $3,600/year

• Overseas travel grant: $1,500/month, $18,000/year

• Gasoline: free

• Minimum annual increment of 3 per cent of contract fee

• Fully-maintained leased car, valued at $250,000, with option to purchase at the end of three year contract period.

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