AMJSA water company blasts critics’ claims

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IN answer to recent accusations of, ‘overcharging and dubious business practices,’ the Javea based water company AMJASA, hit back at its critics by stating the charges were inaccurate, misleading and a total misrepresentation of the company’s commitment to the community.

In an exclusive EWN interview, newly appointed Chief Executive Officer José Luis Henarejos, explained that the water company was owned by the town and operated on a non-profit basis as a direct service to Javea ratepayers.

“To accuse the town council of underhanded management and profiteering is an insult to the hard work we have all put into this desalination project.”

The original charges, published in a local magazine, related to a sliding scale of price bands that depending on when a water metre is read could increase the cost of the first 10 cubic metres from a basic 15 cents a unit to 63 cents, a staggering 320 per cent increase totally outside the control of the householder.

COE Henarejos, said that since the present government took over the water authority last year, their prime objective has been to save the company from bankruptcy by reducing controllable overheads, increasing productivity and putting any potential price changes on hold until they have completed a total business study of the overall operation.

He told the EWN that the plant cost €24 million to build and operates at an overhead; including loan repayments of around €4 million a year, producing purified water at a plant cost of 84 cents per cubic metre.

‘When you consider that at present, we are selling water to the lower volume consumers at between 15/63 cents a unit, accusations of overcharging are absolutely ridiculous.’

However, when questioned closely about the 320 per cent potential price band differential, COE Henarejos did agree it was a target for genuine criticism, an anomaly that needed to be addressed as soon as the AMJASA basic financial study had been completed.

He also agreed that they were out of touch with the consumer and needed to up their communication skills in line with today’s technology, adding that a long overdue updated web site was being designed at the moment.

This, he hoped, would eventually explain the AMJASA service from desalination operational methods to consumer price bands and expose the secrets behind deciphering the existing complex billing system that at present, with the addition of various unexplained surcharges, can bump the basic water bill up by as much as 429 per cent.

Sebastian Garcia, the former head of computer programmes for Emarsa and and the administrator for several companies that were subcontracted by the entity, revealed yesterday that he paid 1.8 million Euros in commissions and a monthly payout of 4,000 Euros to Esteban Cuesta, the former manager of Emarsa.

This testimony was made to a court in Valencia that is investigating the misuse of public funds on the part of water treatment entity Emarsa in Pinedo, and is similar to the testimony of former financial director Enrique Arnal who had told they court that as well as Mr Cuesta, others involved were Enrique Crespo, the former Partido Popular Mayor of Manises as well as Juan Jose Morenilla and Ignacio Bernacer

By Benny Davis

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