Subsidy backed

GOVERNMENT’S decision to subsidise the first 100kW of electricity used by households whose combined income is less than $30,000 has been welcomed by the consumer watchdog.

Consumer Council of Fiji CEO Premila Kumar said they lobbied for the fair implementation of the government subsidy on the monthly use of electricity.

Ms Kumar said the subsidy was given for 75kwh in 2010, later it increased to 85kwh, and in 2016 it was further increased to 95kwh.

However, there was confusion in the application of the subsidy.

“Consumers who received bills with their ‘kwh usage’ reading of less than 95kwh had often been surprised when electricity subsidy were not awarded to them on those bills,” said Ms Kumar. “The catch was how FEA calculated monthly usage which was based on average daily use. For FEA, 95kwh a month is equal to 3.13kwh, based on an average month of 30.42 days. “Hence, subsidy would only apply if average daily use is 3.13kwh or less.”

Ms Kumar said for instance, a household that used 94kWh of electricity in a billing cycle covering 28 days, had an average daily use of 3.24kwh, which was above the 3.13kwh, making them not eligible for the subsidy.

“Hence, the council in its submission asked for a government subsidy for the first 95kwh and any usage above that to attract normal tariffs. The previous rule restricted lower income households, with usually large family, to qualify for the subsidy.”

A budget of $5 million has been allocated for the subsidy.

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