The nixing of Government subsidies to electricity and water for pensioners have made it difficult for them to provide for
Patentia resident & fish vendor Zoreena Persaud
their basic needs, thus adding to their hardships.
This was on Saturday reiterated by fish vendor Zoreena Persaud who told this publication that if she had not been a working woman, her husband, an old aged pensioner would have struggled to survive.
“It affect we really bad, if me didn’t got this business I don’t know how me husband would mek out,” she related.
She noted that even with the recent increase in the old-aged pension, she is unable to meet all her needs and is calling for the reinstatement of government subsidies.
“We calling on the authorities to put it back to how it was like before,” Persaud emphasised.
The Patentia resident further said that apart from her husband, many other elderly persons in the area cannot afford their bills.
“The old people dem got to pay for water, dem ah get one lil $17,000 but wha de use?”
“You have to pay it back for light, we have to pay phone bill… when dem old people done pay da what would left out of da $17,000?” questioned the fish vendor.
Back in January Guyana Times reported that Government’s monthly $17,000 pension could not cater to the needs of these aged beneficiaries. Ramrattie, 76, of De Kinderen, West Coast Demerara, told this newspaper she was shocked when she received a $16,000 water bill.
The elderly woman also related that she could not afford to make the payment in time and as such, the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) had cut off the water supply to her house.
Ramrattie also said she was forced to pay a $6000 reconnection fee in addition to signing a contract with the water company. This contract, she said, was to ensure that all outstanding payments are paid.
She also lamented that the current Old Age Pension was not sufficient to meet her needs.
“If at this age me only depend pun pension and if me got to pay water company, me’en know how me gan make out… the pension can’t pay de money,” stressed the 76-year-old.
Back in October of 2015, this newspaper reported on the dire state in which some pensioners had found themselves after the removal of the subsidies. At that time, Tessa McKenzie, 70, had expressed her frustrations over the eliminations.
“I never had to worry about the light bills and the water bills. When the month come, it was just a $2000 for the light bill and like a $4000 for the water bill. Cause it’s me alone and how much one old lady gon use up? So the pension I used to get was good ‘cause at least I had leftover to buy my lil’ groceries. Now, it’s like all my pension going behind the bills,” stated McKenzie in October of last year.
The Old Age Pension is a monthly payment available to Guyanese aged 65 or older; however, before anyone can receive this benefit, he/she must meet eligibility requirements.