The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic have not only caused the tourism sector to shut down in Seychelles but is causing financial strain on the island nation's utility company, the Public Utilities Corporation (PUC), which provides the island nation with utility services.
With tourism establishments including large hotels closed since March, PUC says its revenue is being impacted. The chief executive of the company, Philippe Morin, told SNA that the tourism sector represents important clients for PUC.
"With the situation of COVID, PUC as a company is seriously and financially affected, because what we are seeing is a considerable reduction in energy consumption by hotels and some industries as a result of that we are seeing a reduction in revenue," said Morin.
According to Morin "hotels as customers bring in substantial revenue for the company, and surplus generated from sales in the tourism sector helps to cross-subsidise electricity domestic consumers and water and sewerage customers. This situation, therefore, is having an adverse financial impact on PUC. We will continue to be affected until probably the end of the year when hopefully the situation returns to normal."
PUC is a public corporation established in 1986 to manage and operate the electrical, water and sewage services in Seychelles - 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.
PUC is the only company providing electricity, water and sewerage services to customers on the three main islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. With a workforce of over 900, PUC delivers electricity to 28,000 customers and water to more than 29,000 customers and provides sewerage services to over 3,000 customers.
"The adverse consequences which COVID-19 is having on PUC's financial resources will be felt by employees, and operations, as well as programme for projects, will be affected That means that there will be fewer resources available for projects across the board. Because how do you finance your project? You finance it from your surplus, your loan and subvention from government," explained the chief executive.
Morin said that the company is keeping its board of directors and parent ministry - the Ministry for Environment, Energy and Climate Change - informed on the challenges as PUC says it cannot stop projects whose implementation have started. However, all new projects have been put on hold.
Some projects currently being implemented by the company includes the replacement of non-performing pipes, increasing intake of raw water from surface sources, the democratisation of solar photovoltaic, as well as the refurbishment of the greater Victoria sewerage system.
The Public Utilities Corporation says that if it cannot get financial assistance from the government it will have no choice but to take commercial loans in order to continue with its investment programmes so as to ensure the continuity and security of services.r from surface sources, the democratisation of solar photovoltaic, as well as the refurbishment of the greater Victoria sewerage system.