PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday suggested the government is not in a position to do more for people needing rental assistance.
Last week, Social Services Minister Frankie Campbell said 1,000 rental assistance applicants would be given $1,200 this month to help them with paying rent.
At the time, Mr Campbell said the policy needed to be reviewed.
Asked about this, Dr Minnis said: “We would love to do a lot more. We are unfortunately not like the United States who can print money and other countries who have greater access, but we would use as much as our resources — whatever is available — to ensure that Bahamians maintain a quality of life, continue to have job opportunities, maintain their jobs, etc. That’s our goal and objective and we’ll continue that.”
In April, Dr Minnis announced details of his administration’s rental assistance programme revealing at the time an initiative that would be based on deferrals and apply only to residential rentals.
He said people who qualify for the programme would be able to postpone up to 40 percent of their rent over a three-month period.
At the time he said there should be “no evictions between now (April) and the end of June unless the tenant had been legally eligible for eviction before April,” adding that at the end of the three-month period, people will have 12 months to pay back the deferred amount.
“This means for example, that if an individual’s rent is $800 per month, they will be required to pay $480 per month over the next three months,” he had said earlier this year. “The remainder will be deferred or postponed.”
Critics said the plan did not go far enough to assist those in need.
In May, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said the government does not plan to intervene in and settle disputes between landlords and tenants who qualify for the COVID-19 rental assistance programme.