by Linda Straker
- 1,500 vulnerable families to pay EC$20 for internet service under new stimulus package
- “Internet Assistance to the Indigent” designed to build health, social and economic resilience in OECS member states
- Support ranges from one-off payments to monthly transfers for up to 6 months
Under the Government’s upcoming stimulus package 1,500 families are to benefit from a special project between the Government and a telecommunications provider that will see them paying EC$20 for an internet package which normally costs EC$104.
Called the “Internet Assistance to the Indigent,” it is one of 4 components for the stimulus package that is funded by the Government of Grenada in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), under the Inter-American Development Bank/Caribbean Development Bank Global Loan Programme, which is designed to build health, social and economic resilience in OECS member states.
An initiative of FLOW Grenada, Finance Minister Gregory Bowen said that recipients will pay EC$20 towards their monthly bill. “Flow will contribute EC$54; the recipient, that is the family, will pay EC$20 and the Government of Grenada will secure the remaining EC$30,” he said.
Government’s payment will come from the Universal Service Fund which has been established in Grenada and each other ECTEL Member State for the promotion of universal service. The Universal Service Fund is paid for by contributions from providers of telecommunications services, which is assessed as a percentage of their annual revenues.
“We must recognise that we have moved into the digital era. Education services all come through an internet connection, that is why it is imperative that our students, in particular the fifth, fourth, third form, even at the primary school level, they require the internet,” Bowen said during the weekly post-cabinet briefing on Wednesday, 4 August 2021. “We know what happens; we see people staying on the outside of the properties of others just to access the internet,” he said, pointing out that those who are accessing the internet from neighbours or business places do not receive the best connection.
Recipients will be individuals who are already struggling to pay bills — many of whom are now disconnected — as well as other social safety net programmes. “The schools will play an important role there,” he said.
The stimulus package will target vulnerable people who are most impacted by the pandemic, and will include — but not limited to — individuals in the cultural sector whose livelihood depends almost exclusively on cultural activities, farmers, agro-processors, caterers, operators of entertainment centres, former cruise ship workers, taxi drivers, water taxi operators, tourist vendors, bus operators, former hotel employees, and others.
Beneficiaries will receive support ranging from one-off payments to monthly transfers for up to 6 months, based on the category of eligibility. The Government has a small number of shares in FLOW.
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