MSJ urges government: Don’t raise T&TEC rates

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) leader David Abdulah – File photo by Roger Jacob

THE Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) has once again condemned the increase in electricity rates proposed by the Regulated Industries Commission (RIC).

Speaking with the media in front of the Ministry of Public Utilities building on Tragarete Road, Port of Spain, on February 28, the party’s political leader, David Abdulah, said there is a viable alternative to the rate increase that involves the reintegration of power generation into the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC), a move he believes will be financially beneficial to T&TEC and its customers.

“If the power producers were integrated, there would be an immediate savings of $250 million a year and there would be no profit for the middleman, and this too would save millions of dollars.”

Abdulah says the increase will have ripple effects that will be felt only by the working class, saying renters in residential and commercial spaces will bear the brunt of the increased expenses.

He said the MSJ will take its online Don’t Leave Us in the Dark petition to the streets of Trinidad and Tobago, collecting physical signatures, which it will then publish online and send to the PM. Abdulah said his party will regroup on March 4.

Asked if he had spoken to the Minister of Public Utilities, Marvin Gonzales, he said he had not because he had no respect for Gonzales, saying, “He is wet behind the ears.”

In October, the commission announced the proposal, which could see an increase of between 15 and 64 per cent, depending on consumption, as well as other changes such as switching to a monthly billing cycle instead of every two months.

The RIC also proposed an increase in the tiers of consumption for payments, and the introduction of a fourth consumption tier – higher than 1,400 kilowatt-hours (kWh).

The first tier, 0-200 kWh, would have a proposed charge of 28 cents per kWh; tier two, from 200-700 kWh, would have an electricity charge of 40 cents. From 700-1,400 kWh, there would be a charge of 54 cents; and greater than 1,400 kWh would have a suggested charge of 68 cents.

Abdulah also criticised the government and the minister of finance’s property tax for residential homes, saying the government should tax the rich with multi-million-dollar commercial properties. He said government economics is neoliberal economics, which favours private enterprise and aims to move control of economic factors from the government to the private sector.

“There is no doubt the rich are getting richer, prices are going up much faster and higher than workers’ incomes, so workers are getting poorer.”