The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has announced it will continue its ‘red notice’ protests, despite welcoming changes the government’s new subsidies for electricity charges.
National Social Protection Agency (NSPA) today said that it changed the per unit rate for subsidies for electricity charges, a move intended to people who cannot afford the electricity bill.
According to the changes, charges for 0-100 meter units would be Rf1.50, 101-200 meter units Rf1.70, 201-300 meter units Rf2.15 and 301-400 units Rf2.50, for people receiving subsidies.
Charges for those not identified as eligible for a subsidy will remain at Rf2.25 for 0-100 units, Rf2.50 for 101-300 units, Rf 2.95 for 301-500 units, Rf3.55 for 501-600 units and Rf3.85 above 601.
NSPA Chairperson Ibrahim Waheed said that the subsidied charges were cheaper than 2008 prices.
”No changes were brought to the [normal] charges, but the subsidised rates have changed,” he said.
No changes were made to unsubsidised electricity charges because the government wished to run the State Electric Company (STELCO) without a loss, he said.
He said that the changes in the subsidised rates had no connection with the DRP-led protests.
DRP MP Ahmed Mahloof meanwhile said the protest would begin tonight at 8:45pm, and would start near the tsunami monument.
”Maldivian Democratic Party MDP’s protest outside the Vice President’s house has proved us that climbing gates was not prohibited,” Mahloof said. ”We will climb the gates of Muleeage [the President’s official residence] tonight.”
Mahloof said he had information that the police has planned to use rubber bullets to disperse tonight’s gathering.
DRP MP Ahmed Nihan said that DRP welcomed the changes brought to the electricity charges, but ”will continue the protest as we have planned.”
Nihan said that 80 percent of the people ought to receive subsidies for electricity charges.
”The procedure NSPA follows is not very comprehensive,” he said, ”but we welcome the changes they brought.”