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Govt announces more water, electricity freebies

Poor Ghanaians would enjoy free water and electricity supplies for the next three months, the finance minister, Ken Ofori-Atta has announced.

Presenting the mid-year budget in parliament on Thursday, July 23rd, the Finance Minister said the water and electricity reprieve is to support citizens in these difficult times.

There will be free water for consumers for August, September, and October but that of electricity would be limited to lifeline consumers.

He said the government would “retain a provision of free water for the next three months, retain free electricity for all life-line customers for the rest of the year” he said.

The utility reprieve when implemented will bring to six months, the number of months that water and electricity supplies have been subsidized to help consumers cope with the economic challenges arising from the raging coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Lockdown freebies

During the lockdown in March, government absorbed water and electricity bills for consumers from March, April, and May

The government intervention came on the back of complaints that a greater portion of Ghanaian homes did not have running water, which undermined the World Health Organisation safety protocols of hand-washing under running water.

In April, the government in response to the needs of industry and a section of the public announced an electricity relief package for Ghanaians.

It includes subsidies for businesses and free electricity for those who consume below 50 kilowatts.

The President at the time indicated that “the government will fully absorb electricity bills for the poorest of the poor.”

He explained that “for all lifeline consumers, that is free electricity for persons who consume zero to 50 kilowatts a month for this period.”

According to the Finance Minister, that initiative cost the government GHc 1.02 billion.

The cost

Giving accounts of the cost on the public purse, the Finance Minister said, “To this end, electricity and water consumption were temporarily subsidized. The government fully covered the cost of consumption of the one million lifeline customers and subsidized 50% of the consumption of all other customers.

“This livelihood preservation program for about 4 million households and 680,000 businesses, added an unplanned GH¢1.02 billion to Government expenditures.

“The total cost of the Water Relief Programme to government is projected at GH¢275.5 million out of which GH¢199.3 million had been paid by end-June 2020,” he said

The minister, however, did not announce how much it will cost the country to run the extension of the relief programme.

Other countries like France and  Kenya also absorbed the payment of utility bills.

 

 

 

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