March 28, 2020
coronavirus

President Piñera announces benefits to facilitate the payment of electricity and water bills and provide free internet

President Piñera announces benefits to facilitate the payment of electricity and water bills and provide free internet
Noteworthy measures to postpone the payment of electricity, potable water and wastewater bills for the duration of the state of disaster and ensure internet connectivity for existing clients in the 40% poorest homes.

President Sebastián Piñera has provided new benefits to help the people of Chile to cope better with the COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting the country. The measures are targeted at the 40% poorest homes, benefiting 7 million people. They are focused on facilities to postpone the payment of electricity and water bills and also to ensure internet connectivity in homes.

“These measures will be a relief and help for millions of Chilean families,” said the President, speaking from La Moneda Palace.

The President also reiterated the Government’s three priorities for addressing the current situation: protecting the health and lives of all Chileans, ensuring the supply of essential goods and services and protecting jobs, incomes and SMEs.

In addition to thanking many members of Congress for their support, concern and proposals, he asked Congress to give the maximum urgency to approving the following urgent and necessary bills: First, the Covid-19 Bonus, which will mean 50,000 Chilean pesos (around US$60) per family dependent, representing an average of 125,000 pesos (around US$150) per family. This bonus will benefit some 3 million people. Second, the Employment Protection Bill, which will enable Chilean workers who are prevented from working due to the Coronavirus pandemic to continue to receive an income, accessing the unemployment insurance benefits, during this emergency period.

Prior to these announcements, the President presided over an unprecedented videoconference meeting of the Council of Ministers.

The President stated that agreements have been reached with utility service providers to give benefits and payment facilities to the users belonging to the 40% poorest homes according to the Social Homes Register.

The benefits are as follows:

1. Electricity Sector

The Government has reached an agreement with the electricity distribution companies to offer benefits and facilities to its users for the payment of their electricity bills. During the State of Disaster:

  • The process of cutting off the electricity service to users who are late with their bill payments will be suspended.
  • The unpaid totals that accrue during the state of disaster will be prorated in subsequent bills over a 12-month period, starting from the end of the State of Disaster. No fines or interest will be charged.
  • Those clients with cumulative debts of less than 10 UF up until the period before the State of Disaster can also prorate their debt for the 12 months following the end of the State of Disaster. (A UF is an index-linked unit of account, currently worth around US$33).

This plan will benefit 3 million families and 7 million people in the 40% poorest homes and also other people in vulnerable situations or who are unable to pay because of the health emergency, such as senior citizens or people who have lost their jobs.

 

2. Telecommunications Sector

A connectivity plan called “Plan Solidario de Conectividad” is to be implemented to provide 60 days of free internet to existing customers from the 40% poorest homes. This connectivity plan will enable the beneficiary families to navigate the internet, use social networks, reply to emails, visit all the official sites about the Coronavirus and the “aprendoenlínea.mineduc.cl” website, among other services, completely free of charge.

Anyone who cannot pay their current plan can request the company to cut their existing plan and provide access to this connectivity plan at no cost.

3. Sanitary Sector

Domestic clients from the 40% poorest households whose monthly water consumption is less than 10 cubic meters can opt to postpone their potable water and wastewater bills during the whole period of the State of Disaster.

This benefit also extends to senior citizens over 60 who have difficulties in paying and to people who lose their jobs during the emergency period. These costs will be prorated in their bills for the following 12 months without fines or late payment interest being applied.

This measure will benefit 1.5 million families and others who need it and agree it with the companies.

Additionally, the Government will continue to subsidize part of the monthly payment of water and wastewater bills up to a maximum monthly consumption of 15 cubic meters. For families in the solidarity schemes “Sistema Chile Solidario” and “Sistema Chile Seguridades y Oportunidades”, the subsidy will cover 100% of the cost of the first 15 cubic meters of monthly consumption.

This subsidy can be renewed automatically for 3 months so that people do not have to go in person to complete the paperwork.