UPP pledges water programme which would provide storage relief for vulnerable households

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The United Progressive Party (UPP) says it recognises that a permanent fix for APUA’s water challenges would not be achieved within days or months if the party was to take office after the next general election.

However, a statement said, while the party works toward long-term solutions, it believes other measures should be taken to ameliorate the challenges of storage faced by many low-income families, small farmers and small businesses.

A UPP administration would immediately introduce its Water Tank and Equipment Relief (WATER) Programme.

For a period of 12 months, the UPP would remove all taxes related to the importation of water storage tanks, water pumps, pressure tanks, and electrical and plumbing fixtures for businesses and service providers registered with the programme.

Over two years, the UPP would make a minimum of EC$5 million available to the Antigua and Barbuda Development Bank (ABDB), specifically to be disbursed in low-interest loans.

Households that earn less than $4,000 a month, along with small businesses earning less than $10,000 a month, and bona fide farmers working land of up to 10 acres would be eligible to apply.

Once they meet the conditions – including the submission of a professional assessment – the ABDB would approve a loan for the purchase of water tanks and the necessary fittings.

Loan recipients will select from a list of bank-approved plumbing and electrical contractors to set up their water collection and distribution systems to ensure professional-grade work.

The bank would make direct payment to retailers and service providers.

“This system is a win-win situation that allows eligible households, small businesses, and small farmers to access loan funds at very affordable rates and over reasonable repayment periods,” a release said.

“It is also an economic stimulus, providing a certain amount of business – as well as guaranteed payment – for the retailers and the service providers registered with the programme. Further, it provides capitalisation and a wider customer base for the Development Bank.

“This initiative will be developed in collaboration with the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority,” it added.

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