Government’s garbage bill at SBRC mounting up
Declaring that it has met all of its obligations to the bank for construction of the Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre (SBRC) at Vaucluse, St Thomas, Williams Industries today accused the Freundel Stuart administration of not honouring the Government’s “staggering” debt arrears to the company.
A legal source close to the SBRC told Barbados TODAY the Government was behind in payments under its contract with the Williams Industries-owned waste processing plant by more than $30 million or between $2.3 million to $2.6 million per month.
“It is believed that in an attempt to try to pay SBRC some of the money outstanding, Government introduced the Municipal Solid Waste Tax which was a one off. The new tipping fee is an attempt to sustain future payments,” added the source.
The well-placed source noted that not much of the revenue from the Municipal Solid Waste Tax was paid to SBRC because it had to go into the Consolidated Fund and was presumably channeled into other areas.
“Mangrove Landfill was full to overflowing and SBRC was desperately needed to relieve the burgeoning problem. While SBRC was to receive $22.6 million per annum, it has never done so and, at the moment, is saddled with a debt running into multi-millions which Government is struggling to repay,” the legal official pointed out.
But even while the Freundel Stuart Administration experiences difficulty meeting its contractual obligations to the Williams-owned company to receive and process the waste streams previously received at the state-run Sanitary Landfill at Mangrove, St. Thomas, it has just signed a US$300 million agreement with the Jada Group of Companies for the construction of a plasma gasification plant.
A prominent waste industry leader told Barbados TODAY this means the Government is very likely to terminate its existing contract with SBRC by the end of the minimum 10-year period and divert all the waste now going there to the proposed plant. Under the Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOLT) contract with the Vaucluse facility, Government would have to pay out a termination fee of $39 million for that period and, if it takes back the plant at the end of the 20 year expiry period, it must shell out about $14 million.
In addition to the US$300 million deal with the Jada Group, the Government has selected the Williams Group for the establishment of a $28 million leachate plant.
SBRC was formed in early 2008, following the successful negotiation of a contract with the Government of Barbados to receive and process the waste streams previously being received at the Mangrove landfill. Under the contract, SBRC will receive and process waste for a fee for a minimum period of ten years, after which the Government has the option to purchase the facility.
The principal objective of the facility is to divert waste from the Sanitary Landfill. The immediate benefit to the Government and to Barbados is less waste going to the landfill and an extended landfill life. Long-term benefits are numerous, not least being the reuse of materials, which ultimately would be replaced with imports if no recycling is implemented.
The legal source close to the SBRC noted that “the size of the arrears now owed by Government to SBRC could not have been borne by any other company but because it has the backing of Williams Industries, SBRC continues to function and pay staff and accept and treat solid waste, day in and day out.”