Spending for LED light bulbs set to go to Cabinet for approval
Spending approval will be sought by the Ministry of Home Affairs for a $500,000 scheme – announced four months ago – to hand out LED light bulbs to families.
Walter Roban, the minister, provided an update on the Progressive Labour Party administration’s commitment to support households, which was part of a $15 million economic relief package unveiled in July.
David Burt said earlier that the bulbs would be bought and distributed by the Government to help reduce power bills.
He told the House of Assembly: “It is widely known that the cost of energy in Bermuda is among the highest in the world and is a contributory factor to the country’s high cost of living.
“In response, the LED lights distributed under this proposal will use up to 85 per cent less energy which will help reduce the household energy costs for Bermuda’s families.”
At a press conference yesterday on Throne Speech initiatives Mr Roban, who is also the Deputy Premier, said: “We are going through the process to get our approval for that funding to be used to purchase the light bulbs now.
“We’re working with the Ministry of Finance to approve that funding.”
He confirmed that the cost of the scheme was "half a million dollars”.
A Ministry of Home Affairs spokesman said later: “Regarding the funding for the LED light bulb initiative, the Ministry of Home Affairs is not waiting on funding approval.
“To clarify, $500,000 was approved by the Legislature. However, the procurement process requires obtaining three quotes, and for any proposed spending over $150,000, Cabinet must approve.
“We are finalising the Cabinet memorandum to submit to Cabinet to approve the spending.”
Pledges made by the Government when the relief package was announced also included a $150 payout to the parents or guardians of all public school pupils.
The education department said last week that 2,521 of 2,760 applications for the funds were approved and submitted to the Accountant-General’s office for payment. Of those, 2,299 were paid.
Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, said: “I want to thank parents and guardians again for their patience as we work diligently to ensure the last of the applications are processed and paid.”
Applications for the payments did not go live until days before pupils returned to school in September.
MPs heard later that a string of reasons – including problems with supporting documents and challenges encountered by parents unfamiliar with the education department’s online system – contributed to “unforeseen delays in some payment disbursements”.
A programme to offer payroll tax rebates to workers who earned less that $96,000 was also part of the economic relief package, and applications were available from last month.
Mr Burt said then: “It is regrettable that this innovative first-time programme was delayed as we ensured that there were no issues with the Auditor-General when these funds are audited.”
People who earn less than $60,000 a year will receive a $250 benefit, while those who earn from $60,000 and less than $96,000 are to get a $100 rebate.
Applications can be made online at economicrelief.gov.bm by December 15, 2022.
Mr Burt said in July that the relief package also included “a 15 per cent increase in the food allowance budget for the Department of Financial Assistance to provide more support to families in need of food assistance”.
• UPDATE: This article has been updated after the Ministry of Home Affairs requested clarification on the minister’s remarks.