MPs pass first part of cost of living relief – The Royal Gazette

Tax relief: People earning less than $96,000 will receive rebates on payroll taxes under a government relief program

Financial aid is on the way after MPs last night approved $5.8 million to help workers and families struggling with rising prices.

David Burt, the prime minister, said the money was part of a $15million package that included cuts in petrol and diesel duties and the elimination of tariffs on essential unsalted foodstuffs. specified.

Mr Burt, also finance minister, said the $5.3million in relief consisted of a $3.8million rebate on payroll taxes for low-income people, $567,000 $931,651 for school supplies for public school students and a $931,651 increase in the food allowance for those on financial assistance.

David Burt, Prime Minister (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The other $500,000 will be used to purchase LED bulbs that will be distributed to families.

Separately, Mr Burt tabled an order giving him, as finance minister, the ability to set the rate of excise duty on fuel without the need for legislative authority. This will give the minister the power to set fuel prices at the February rate when it was frozen and will cost the government $6.3 million in that fiscal year.

The House is not yet seized of the food duty reductions which are expected to cost the government approximately $3 million.

Mr Burt said the measures were designed ‘to provide relief to the people of Bermuda to cope with the rising cost of living’.

He said the $15 million came from a promise in the budget that half of any budget surplus over what was estimated in February would be used to provide relief to needy families and reduce energy costs.

So far, the budget is expected to be $30 million ahead of plan.

Under the payroll tax refund, people earning between $60,000 and $96,000 can claim a $100 refund and those earning less than $60,000 can claim $250.

Mr Burt added: “Those who earn more can afford to pay more. It’s very hard to make ends meet if you’re making less than $60,000 in Bermuda, so we want to do everything we can to provide assistance where it’s needed most.

What’s included in the rescue package so far?

• Payroll tax rebate of $250 for people earning less than $60,000 per year; and a $100 rebate for those earning between $60,000 and $96,000

• Support for school supplies at $150 for each public school student

• An estimated $500,000 for LED bulbs for families to reduce their electricity bills

• Increased food allowance budget for Financial Aid Department

During questioning, Mr. Burt clarified that the only requirement for candidates is to be employed and to pay social charges.

Diallo Rabain said the Ministry of Education expects a 90% turnout for its public school supply package which will see every public school child receive $150.

Diallo Rabain (file photograph by Blaire Simmons)

He said: “Many parents face financial challenges every year as they prepare for the start of the school year. There are 4,200 students enrolled in Bermuda’s public school system, bringing the total amount to $567,000 that will be allocated for the 2022/2023 fiscal year.

Parents should apply for the grant through the PowerSchool online program and ensure their contact information is up to date.

Opposition MP Susan Jackson asked if parents would be required to have their school purchases checked.

Mr Rabain said they would not, adding: ‘I don’t agree with you asking us to prove it – it will go a long way to helping our parents.’

Susan Jackson (Photograph provided)

Cole Simons, the Leader of the Opposition, asked whether support had been considered for homeschoolers and private schoolchildren, and whether it had been decided on the basis of need.

Mr Rabain said: “The funding we have at the ministry is allocated to students in the public school system, which has always been the case. If that’s something we can look at budgeting for years to come and expanding beyond the scope we had, but for now it will be limited to public schools.

The relief package includes a 15% increase in the Financial Assistance Department’s food allowance budget.

The department received an additional budget increase of $931,651. It will provide food aid to those struggling to meet the cost of rising food prices.

Shadow Legal Affairs Minister Scott Pearman asked how much the supplement would be per beneficiary, himself estimating that it would average $47 per person per month.

Jason Hayward, the Labor Secretary, said it was not as simple as dividing the funds equally because different people have different nutritional needs.

Walter Roban, Minister of the Interior and Deputy Leader, outlined a plan to spend $500,000 to provide 150,000 eco-friendly LED bulbs.

Walter Roban (File photography by Blaire Simmons)

“One of the strongest themes of this administration’s Speech from the Throne has been reducing the cost of electricity,” Roban said.

“Energy conservation is an area where we need to do more and when we hear the words energy conservation, we think of doing without it or doing less of it. Energy efficient appliances and light fixtures are a great way to conserve energy effortlessly.

“We are requesting the supplement for the purchase of 150,000 LED bulbs. This number is enough to benefit all households in Bermuda.

He said if all 150,000 bulbs are used, the government estimates the public can collectively save up to $5.8 million in electricity costs.

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