Government will spend an additional $3.2 million annually to expand the Utilities Assistance Programme (UAP) as a means of providing utility assistance to a wider spectrum of the population.
Minister of Public Utilities, Nizam Baksh made the announcement as he addressed the post-Cabinet news briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister in St. Clair Wednesday.
“In 2010, the Ministry increased the rates we contribute to the poor for water and electricity bills. This is where we lend assistance to those in the low economic brackets. A number of persons who had not been able to benefit before benefitted,” Baksh said.
He explained that the qualification ceiling for electricity assistance increased from the usage of 400 kilowatts per household to 500. This was done in May 2013.
“We conducted another review and have decided to increase the subsidy of WASA and TTEC bills further among other things. For instance we would assist these households who are in need of water tanks up to $1500,” Baksh said.
He explained that the programme initially catered for persons already receiving assistance from the Ministry of the People and Social Development. This involved those who receive public assistance, disability grant and old age pensions.
“A number of persons have been coming to us and they are not under the grant system. As such, we will be catering for those persons outside. So anybody who makes $3,500 and under for the month now be able to qualify for the assistance,” Baksh said.
In addition, Baksh said TTEC will be assisting rural communities where there is no electricity supply by providing them with solar powered panels.
“The cost to supply electricity to these communities is very expensive. We would give solar panels for a maximum of $25, 000,”
The Minister assured that the programmes will be reviewed as the need arises.