01 August 2008
Northern Ireland's government-owned water company, NI Water, has been ordered by the utility regulator to improve its business planning and corporate governance, following errors predicted to cause an annual £20m shortfall in income.
An investigation by the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation followed disclosure of the mistake in calculating the amount business customers would pay for their water supplies. Domestic customers might have to pay more to fill the gap.
The utility regulator concluded that there had been 'serious shortfalls in areas of management' that amounted to a breach of the water company's licence. NI Water has promised it will put the failings right.
Regional development minister Conor Murphy said: 'The company deserves credit for identifying the incorrect data, [but] its handling of the issue after the discovery did not reflect best practice.' The company and regulator were now working together, said Murphy, to deal with the income shortfall.
NI Water chair and interim chief executive Chris Mellor said: 'Customers will hopefully be reassured by the fact that the regulator has found no dishonesty by NI Water in this matter.'