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Zero Rate Electricity Bills Now
Posted: Monday, January 23, 2006

By Stephen Kangal

The 1 March price hike for electricity supplied to T&TEC's industrial, commercial and residential consumers will have the same unforeseen, negative and domino effects across the economy as the ill-advised gas price-like introduced by the current Administration. In fact rising inflation, tax increases, high wage settlements, high spending and rising food and household expenditures have become the DNA of PNM Administrations past and present.

The proposed 35% electricity-price increase cannot be justified having regard to the current escalating inflationary pressures that are further pauperising 35% of our people living in a poverty trap amidst galloping and rising prosperity. This is a virtual 35% bread hike against which the people must rise up in orchestrated anger and premeditated disgust having regard to the overflowing coffers of the Exchequer. The 0.3% inflation rise given by Dennis Pantin is the direct effect. What of the indirect effects?

We cannot honestly compare electricity prices in T&T with the rest of the Caribbean because gas is produced locally, we have our own peculiar economic operating conditions and our consumption rate is the highest in the Caribbean.

The control and management of inflation within single digits is the heart and of sound management of the economy and economic survival and social welfare. Ours has already breached the 8% prohibited zone. It is daily powering ineluctably into the uncomfortable and uncontrollable double- digit realm. Soon the purchasing power of people's hard- earned savings and fixed pension payments will be decimated. The TT dollar will soon begin to depreciate again leading to large scale increases in the price of imports and the purchase of foreign currency. The 35 % electricity price hike will create pervasive havoc in the economy and affect the welfare of the ballooning underclass in T&T. It is like a potent dose of senna tea being administered to an already ailing patient.

Government intervention is now critical to avert runaway inflation and stem further currency depreciation. The Manning Administration must zero rate VAT on electricity bills and subsidise gas to Powergen to act as a palliative to stemming the spiral rising electricity costs. This electricity price increase is insensitive to the prevailing culture of stress and tension in the society that cannot guarantee the basic safety and security of the citizenry and the integrity of the creators and generators of wealth. The latter is on an exodus mode to safer climes.

Does David Abdullah of FITUN support this punitive 35% increase in household expenditure seeing that his OWTU will benefit substantially?

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