Princes Town MP, Barry Padarath has slammed the Regulated Industries Commission for what he describes as an act of extreme cowardice. Padarath said that he noted an advertisement in several daily newspapers today from the RIC, calling on the public to send in their comments in print or electronic form on the draft determination for the electricity transmission and distribution sector 2023 – 2027.
Padarath, who is the Opposition Shadow Minister for Public Utilities indicated that since October 2022 when the budget was read, he noticed that there was no allocation in the estimates of income and expenditure under the RIC’s heading of hosting of seminars and conferences. Since then he has been calling on the RIC to indicate whether they were intent on stifling the voices of the public by not hosting one on one, face to face public consultations. The MP stated just like the government, the RIC too is running from the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago on critical issues that will have an immediate impact on people’s pockets and homes.
MP Padarath stated that this act of cowardice by the RIC is unacceptable and called on citizens, stakeholders, chambers and civil society to raise their collective voices against this move. He added that this is a country where most people in rural areas and depressed communities do not have access to devices, where large masses of citizens cannot access the draft report.
The Princes Town MP said that the RIC has now become a PNM party group, since they are not seeking the interest of citizens but following the dictates of the government. He questioned why the RIC and by extension their bosses in the government are so afraid to face the public in open healthy dialogue on this issue one on one. Padarath indicated that the massive dissatisfaction with the proposed electricity hikes together with the coming on stream of property tax against the backdrop of high cost of living has citizens waiting to exhale their views in open forums.
Padarath accused the RIC of hiding behind advertisements and press conferences where they can speak down at citizens instead of engaging citizens’ views via dialogue and open communication. He further accused the RIC of behaving as though the proposed rates were already cast in stone.
The Opposition Shadow Minister of Public Utilities indicated that the Opposition will strongly resist the proposed increases and the lack of proper public consultations both inside and outside of the Parliament and warned the RIC that if they do not engage the people one on one, the people and their representatives may very well engage them on the RIC doorsteps. The MP further called on the RIC to review their approach to consultations with the public by making it face to face, one on one and in effect meaningful.