Public condemns T&TEC rate hike
Citizens and the business community are rejecting and condemning the hike in Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) rates proposed by the Regulated Industries Commission (RIC).
The RIC announced the proposed rate hikes on Tuesday, with 15 to 64 per cent increases for residential customers.
Guardian Media took to the streets of Port-of-Spain to get the reactions of the people yesterday.
Helen Fraser, 74, had not heard of the news but was both surprised and frustrated.
“What is there for the poor people now in this hard a** time? I start to get vulgar yes. What it have for we?” Fraser said.
“I find they shouldn’t raise it because we now come out from COVID-19, you understand. It’s too soon,” housekeeper Eve Samuel added.
Retiree Pheodora Alexander was also unaware of the rate hike, even as she was leaving a T&TEC office after paying her regular bi-monthly bill. She said the proposed increase for residential customers was “a whole lot.”
“Oh God. We gotta go with the flow you know. We can’t do without electricity. It is not a good thing but say what,” Alexander said.
People also said that paying their electricity bill monthly will require more discipline, but admitted that this will be hard as the general cost of living continues to rise.
“We used to get a little bligh in between the months to pay the bill…and you see that 60 per cent, I calculated that going to make my bill really high. They need to adjust that a bit downwards,” Abdool said.
Business sector responds
Tobago Business Chamber chairman Martin George also strongly condemned all entities involved in the recent rate hike proposals.
In a video statement, George claimed that T&TEC is choosing to burden citizens, which is their ‘easy way out’, instead of confronting their major debtors.
“For years, T&TEC has complained that some of the governmental and state industries and government offices and government departments and ministries are the greatest debtors who owe T&TEC money. Why don’t you go after them to recover those monies instead of seeking to punish the small man and the individual on the street with a rate increase for those who are defaulting in the millions?” George said.
Meanwhile, Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce president Richie Sookhai said the proposed addition will be hard on small and medium enterprises who are struggling to survive and deal with other hardships.
“Food prices have gone up exponentially since we experienced a lot of the flooding. And even general global prices have gone up. You also have inflation in the United States with the recession. So, you know, it’s not logically positive for everyone right now the way things are…I think the increase is a bit drastic for the population to handle,” Sookhai said.
BY: ANGELO JEDIDIAH