Large-scale farmers are reportedly unaware of a Cabinet decision that accords them a 25 percent reduction in monthly water bills.
Algernon “Serpent” Watts, Spokesman on Agriculture for the United Progressive Party (UPP), is a farmer, himself, and tells REAL News he is unaware of the concession.
Watts says he checked with the major farms and “not one” of these operators had any knowledge of the Cabinet having granted the discount on water.
However, a source has shared with REAL News a written request for the discount, in favour of “Mr. Gaston Browne/Farmer DG Browne Ltd.,” the location of which is Pares Village, Betty’s Hope.
The request is signed by the Acting Chief Extension Officer and copied to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs, and the Acting Extension Officer, Agricultural Extension Division.
The correspondence refers to “a Cabinet decision that all farmers should get a reduction in their monthly water bill.” However, the date of this decision is not given, and several media workers tell our News Room they cannot recall any reference to such a concession among recent Cabinet Notes.
Only last Tuesday, July 20, Watts addressed a Diaspora Forum to whom he spoke about the Government’s failure to minimally address the water situation.
Referring to the funds generated by the Citizenship by Investment Unit these past years, Watts said that “… 1% could have gone toward improving the water situation, even in the most basic ways, for farmers.
“And when I say basic, I mean provisioning the general areas with catchments – even water tanks – and filling them on a regular basis with the water the desalination plant pumps back into the sea,” he said.
“Farmers would be happy to pay a reasonable sum for this service, rather than having to walk away from their cultivations altogether in this cruel drought season… and not know if the land will still be in their possession when they walk back,” the Spokesman said a week ago.
Watts says that knowledge of the 25 percent reduction in water bills would have been greeted as a godsend by these farmers who are now waiting and praying for rain.