January 13th, 2023.
The proposed electricity rate increases by the Regulated Industries Commission (RIC) are a stab in the backs of the working class of Trinidad and Tobago by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley and his PNM Government.
After seven (7) years at the helm of this economy, the fact that citizens are being coerced into paying higher electricity rates is a clear indication of this Government failure to effectively manage the economy and create any iota of prosperity at all.
These proposed rate increases come in the broader context of higher food prices, higher fuel prices, higher rental rates, higher produce prices and years of worsening costs of living.
When mirrored with the runaway crime situation and its impact on the economy, the reduction in the value of social services, crumbling national infrastructure and increased flooding, there is nothing that justifies this Government’s dismal track record of underperformance and abuse of citizens.
What is even worse than the proposed increases are the subject of a shoddy and superficial consultation process meted out by the RIC on behalf of this Government. It is unfathomable that the RIC would put out a schedule of media appearances and refer to those appearances as ‘consultations’.
The RIC’s call for the citizens to walk with their utility bills to the consultations is both laughable and vexatious. One wonders about whether walking with your electricity bill to these consultations would result in the bills being less, or would help citizens in paying for these increases.
It is obvious that the RIC is being used as a scapegoat to execute the draconian, disgraceful agenda of the Prime Minister, whose decision it was to foist higher utility rates upon this country while hiding from the citizens he so wickedly whips into
Instead of him hiding behind the mask of the RIC, I am calling Prime Minister Rowley to face the public at these consultations, and to be present at each and every one of them. Dr. Rowley ought to be joined by the Minister of Public Utilities, Marvin Gonzales, who himself is hiding from the population whilst committing this crime against the population. Further, given the widespread implications of these electricity rate increases, and given the increasing vulnerability of persons across the country, I am demanding that the Government come out from hiding behind media appearances and have in-person consultations in each of the 41 constituencies in Trinidad and Tobago.
I stand willing to facilitate such a consultation attended by the Prime Minister in Couva South and will provide the consultation venue and equipment necessary free of charge to the Government given the urgency of this issue to my constituents of Couva South. At these consultations, the Prime Minister must look directly into the faces of the working class in the country, upon whom he is heaping hot coals in the form of these rate increases.
The Prime Minister must explain who under his tenure, $1.8 billion is still owed to the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) by respective Government ministries and state agencies. This becomes critical, as the RIC had attempted to justify these rate increases given T&TECs high operational costs. He must also account as to why under his watch, these agencies have been unable to pay their light bills. If state agencies are unable to pay for the electricity they consume, how does the Government expect the struggling workers and small businesses of this country to do the same?
The citizens are unfairly paying for the incompetence and under-resourcing taking place under the PNM.
Furthermore, the Prime Minister must indicate what measures have been put into place to restructure costs at T&TEC before placing this burden of increased rates on the citizenry.
While we have come to expect nothing but the worst from this Government, we must demand that this penalising of the population must end, and that the incompetence and arrogance of the Prime Minister and the PNM must be accounted for. We cannot continue to put pressure on the working class.
Like the murder rate, the inflation rate, the unemployment rate and the Covid 19 infection rate, under the PNM, the wrong rates increase.
We are in a crisis that goes beyond the RIC of T&T, as the PNM says RIP to T&T.
Member of Parliament for Couva South and SHADOW RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE
MINISTRY OF LABOUR and TOBAGO AFFAIRS.