FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert said the fuel support grant, which should benefit more than 5,000 maxi taxi owners, is scheduled to be distributed next week.
He was responding to an urgent question in the Senate Tuesday about the grant which was announced by the Prime Minister Saturday.
"It is estimated, barring unforeseen circumstances, that the grant can be made available at some point in time next week."
Imbert said the grant will be issued to all active maxi taxi owners within the Works Ministry system and would be distributed by the ministry in conjunction with the licensing authority and the transport commissioner's office. He explained the authority has a register of all maxi taxis which are road worthy and active on the various routes.
Imbert said the grant will either be a cash grant by cheque or a fuel card. On the latter he said both NP and Unipet have a facility for it and it would give greater accountability as the vehicle number would be on the card.
Opposition Senator Wade Mark asked how many maxi taxi owners would benefit from the grant. Imbert said he was advised by the Works Ministry that there are just over 6,000 maxi taxis on the register but a number have become dysfunctional and were no longer in use, and the actual figure was estimated at approximately 5,000. He reported the Works Ministry and Transport Commissioner were finalising the records at this time and by Tuesday afternoon they should have the exact figure.
Mark also asked if the grant would be distributed to owners/drivers or specifically to the owners, and Imbert replied that the precise details would have to be worked out. He stressed, however, that the purpose of the grant is for vehicles.
He said that the Finance Ministry has funds available and once the form of the grant is finalised and it is determined whether it is given to the owners or the operators, issues which are expected to be resolved by Wednesday, then the process for disbursement should take place.