Charlestown, Nevis (NIA) — Acting Premier of Nevis and Senior Minister responsible for Social Development Hon. Mark Brantley described the official launch of a free utilities initiative by the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) through the Ministry of Social Development, Seniors Division, as a critical and important one for the island’s eligible seniors.
Phase one of the initiative, designed to provide seniors with free water and electricity, was launched at the Nevis Electricity Services Limited (NEVLEC) Customer Services office on Main Street on October 15, 2013, by Junior Minister responsible for Social Development Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams.
“This is a critical initiative; an important initiative for Nevis. I am pretty sure that this will be copied in the other islands soon but I am happy that little Nevis is leading the way in showing our appreciation to those who have given us so much…
“We hope that this will provide some relief to you and it will make your lives a little easier, in this now the winter of your years, so that you can live out those years in a bit more comfort. No electricity, no water payment so you could use that money to do who knows, maybe you will give an extra contribution at church with it but at least you know you don’t have to come in to NEVLEC anymore and you don’t have to go to Water Department’s step anymore. That’s a commitment made to you and a commitment kept to you,” he said.
Mr. Brantley told those present at the landmark event that the initiative was not about the Administration but about the island’s senior citizens. He told them the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) had had promised in its campaign that if it were elected to office something tangible would be done for the senior citizens on behalf of the people of Nevis.
“The good programmes that already existed, we wanted them to continue and we wanted to develop new programmes because we felt that it was important to demonstrate to our seniors that they have paved the way; they are the ones who have created the platform for the Nevis that we now enjoy. So we are committed to this innovative programme, saying to our seniors that once they got to a particular age, we felt if they lived on their own without a fixed income, they should be able to access electricity and water for free.
“Many said it could not be done, well I am proud to be here standing today to say that it is happening and that the seniors who are here represented, are merely an indication of the first phase. I am told we are dealing first with individuals over 80 and I am told 68 individuals are going to benefit from the first phase,” he said.
The Senior Social Development Minister also noted that he looked forward to the second and third phase of the initiative in which all the eligible seniors for the programme would begin to benefit from the free electricity and water programme.
“You may naturally ask what about the others who are over the requisite age and I am told that those phases will happen next month and the month after so that by Christmas, all the seniors who fall within the category will be accessing free water and free electricity,” he said.
Meantime, Mr. Brantley stated that he was pleased to be a part of the programme and regarded it as a historic one that would be recorded in the annals of the island’s history.
“I am delighted to be here and to have the opportunity as the Deputy Premier and as the Senior Minister responsible for Social Affairs to be a part of it. I think this is history in the making and I wanted to be a part of it because I think that when commitments are made and commitments are kept, it is important because it speaks to who we are in terms of our integrity.
“So I am very happy and those of you who are here, the five of you, I hope that you live long; that you benefit from this for many, many years to come and that you see it as a tangible contribution to you not from the government because governments come and governments go but from the people of Nevis whom you would have served for so many years,” he said.
The brief but significant ceremony was attended by five seniors representative of the first 68 who will receive free utilities from October. They were Ms. Hazel Harris, Ms. Cynthia Abbott, Ms, Christina Nisbett, Ms. Celestine Byron and Ms. Blondina Thompson.
On Nevis the month of October has been set aside to celebrate the United Nation’s International Day of Older Persons on October 1st.