Free water, electricity extended
As the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic lingers with no sign of abating, the government has extended free water and part payment of electricity bills by another three months.
This was contained in the Mid-year Budget Review presented to Parliament yesterday by the Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta.
The Finance Minister, in his statement, noted that the government had recognised the hardship facing many citizens as a result of the Covid-19, and resolved to extend the free water and electricity for the next three months.
He said the aim was to enable the citizens live a comfortable life though there is a pandemic, and also stick to the Covid-19 protocol of always washing the hands with soap and water.
“Mr. Speaker, recognising the hardships that many of our citizens, particularly the poor, are facing as a result of COVID, government has decided to extend the provision of free water supply for another three months. Similarly, government will extend free electricity supply for those on the lifeline tariff or three additional months. This should go some ways in helping our citizens sustain their quality of life, and in the case of water, also uphold the hygiene protocols needed to fight the pandemic,” he said.
It would be recalled that President Nana Akufo-Addo earned the admiration of many Ghanaians when he announced in March that his government would foot the water and part of electricity bills of all Ghanaians for the months of April, May and June.
The admiration stemmed from the fact that water was, and is still, considered a crucial component of fighting the Covid-19, as everyone in Ghana has been advised to regularly wash their hands with soap under running water to arrest the spread of the virus.
In an address to the nation, the President said that no one in Ghana would have his electricity bill disconnected for the next three months for lack of payment.
“The Ghana Water Company Limited and the Electricity Company of Ghana have been directed to ensure the stable supply of water and electricity during this period. There will be no disconnection of supply.” The President noted at the time that the measures were aimed at cushioning the public, especially vulnerable families, from the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Aside the free water and electricity, the Minister also briefed the House on one major programme the government intends to put in place to eliminate the negative impact of the pandemic.
According to him, the government would launch the GH¢100 billion Ghana COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises Support (CARES) Programme.
The programme aims to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the lives and livelihoods of Ghanaians, and to ensure that we quickly emerge from the pandemic with a stronger and more resilient economy.
He said the CARES programme is in two phases – a stabilisation phase that runs from July to the end of the year (2020), and a medium-term revitalisation phase that is aimed at accelerating the Ghana Beyond Aid economic transformation agenda.
Throwing light on the project, the Minister said the stabilisation phase of the programme was aimed at extending the duration or coverage of some of the programmes the government has already put in place to provide relief and support to Ghanaians, ensure food security, protect businesses and workers, strengthen the health system, and work with Parliament to pass some legislations that will be instrumental in attracting private investments to support Ghanaian businesses during the economic revitalisation and transformation phase.