Today, I was encouraged by the stand taken by the Friends of Couva, a community-level initiative in Couva South, which held a peaceful protest against the increases in electricity rates as proposed by the Regulated Industries Commission (RIC).
The demonstration made by this community group is a clear signal of how groups of citizens across the country feel about the proposed increases.
As I listened to their protests, there is a growing concern about the impact that increased electricity rates will have on vulnerable single-parent households, senior citizen households and low income families. The rising costs of food, increased transportation costs, higher medication and healthcare costs, higher automotive maintenance expenses and imminent property tax collection are some of the burdensome challenges that have arisen under this PNM administration led by Prime Minister Keith Rowley.
I take note that to date, the rate increases remain a worrisome proposal, the fate of which will be decided upon by the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC), for which the line Minister is the Minister of Public Utilities, Marvin Gonzales.
I am calling on the Board of Commissioners at T&TEC to reject the economically abominable proposals being made by the RIC. Instead, I am urging T&TEC to embark on a collection drive to recover the $1.4Billion owed to it, noting dull well that the majority is owed by State agencies.
This figure begs the question as to whether T&TEC has even attempted to collect these outstanding sums, and the extent to which they have been successful in recovering such sums. It also begs the question as to whether the Cabinet has since mandated all agencies owing T&TEC to expedite payments for the amounts owed.
Today’s demonstration against these demonic, wicked, out of touch proposals by Dawn “Kilowatt-ie” Callender and her RIC signify a seed which has been planted. It is astonishing to me that Ms Callender should go to the lengths of advising people to desist from lighting Christmas trees in their homes to save on electricity bills. She is singing from the same PNM hymnbook as MP Keith Scotland, who advised persons to revert to cooking in “coal pots” since his Government raised the cost of gas, and other Government ministers haughtily scoffing at the use of air conditioning by the public.
I encourage all other groups which are against the unfair rate increases to follow suit and let their disagreement be well known to the Government in the interest of ensuing that T&TEC does the sensible thing and reject the outlandish proposals.