The United Progressive Party (UPP) recognizes that a permanent fix for the challenges faced by the Water Department of the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) will not be achieved within days or months of the Party taking office.
However, while it works toward long-term solutions, it believes that other measures should be taken to ameliorate the challenges of storage faced by many low-income families, small farmers and small businesses.
Accordingly, a UPP Administration will immediately introduce its Water Tank and Equipment Relief (WATER) Programme.
For a period of 12 months, the UPP will 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 WATER Programme.
Over two years, the UPP will make a minimum of $5 million available to the Antigua & Barbuda Development Bank (ABDB), specifically to be disbursed in low-interest WATER loans.
This is how it will work:
Households that earn less than $4,000 a month; small businesses earning less than $10,000 a month; and bona fide farmers working land of up to 10 acres are eligible to apply.
Once they meet the conditions – including the submission of a professional assessment/invoice – the ABDB will approve a loan for the purchase of an appropriate-size water tank(s) and the necessary fittings.
Loan recipients will select from a list of Bank-approved plumbing/electrical contractors to set up their water-collection and distribution systems. This is to ensure professional-grade work.
The Bank will 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.
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 WATER Programme. Further, it provides capitalization and a wider customer base for the Development Bank.
This initiative will be developed in collaboration with the Antigua & Barbuda Investment Authority (ABIA).