Phase in rate hikes

By Raffique Shah
March 21, 2022

Raffique ShahI have not been invited by the Regulated Industries Commission or anyone in the Public Utilities Ministry to submit my thoughts on proposed rate increases for potable water, electricity and other vital services with which the Government is obligated to provide all citizens. I have heard and read of residents in certain communities who intend to oppose any rate hikes, even property tax. They claim they do not receive adequate water, hence they should not be made to pay for services undelivered. Others with political agendas shout out loudly that they will not pay any taxes or rates—period.

Now, sensible people know that almost every form of government runs the affairs of the nations they govern by collecting and utilising taxes and rates on the sales of commodities, goods and services. So while we oppose the mere idea of taxation, unless one plans to live like a hermit in some desolate place far from the madding crowd, every able-bodied citizen who is of sound mind, hell, even those of dubious sanity, must pay rates and taxes.

However, what we citizens must find ways and means of ensuring is that we are taxed in just and equitable ways, and that our contributions to the Government coffers are utilised for the betterment of the society as a whole. We’d like to know, too, that the rates we pay for water or electricity, one a prime element of life itself, the other vital for modern man’s existence, for domestic or commercial use are fair, that what they charge us is not channelled into the vaults and the bank accounts of huge corporations that are swindling us, and political crooks who do nothing to add to the value-chain but siphon money to live like kings.

I am acutely aware that several political heavyweights who were well-positioned in different regimes during the not-too-distant past have fixed themselves and generations of their families for their collective, respective lives. In most instances, the service for which we citizens pay them are often erratic and, in all cases, very ordinary.

It is more than high time we cut that crap. In these hard times when most citizens are under tough budgetary constraints, we must not allow the crooks to escape with the keys to the Treasury while poor people barely exist.

Mark you, looking at the two critical commodities I have chosen to deal with today, we must admit rampant wastage is common among all classes and income groups. We take an almost perverse delight in wasting water. In this respect, there is no demarcation by wealth or poverty. At both ends of the spectrum, we waste water because… well, it’s there to be wasted. The Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), the utility, is the biggest offender. From the utility’s cleaners to its highly paid managers, they have made a fine art of watching millions of dollars of treated water go to waste, and do nothing about it. What should be a five-minute job to save water is allowed to run for years. Such personnel must be fired before we can even talk rate increases.

I live in an ordinary three-bedroom house with two baths and a kitchen faucet. When a washing machine is added, I probably use as much water as the average small family uses. I pay WASA approximately $65 a month, I should add that water supply in my district has always been good. Were I not a pensioner, I would call for doubling that bill. I understand that people who use much more water than I do pay far less than that sum. In fact, many superior houses pay far less than a yard-tap empty lot which description fits thousands of upscale residences that have sprung out of those lots over the years. Fix that.

With respect to electricity, wastage is almost as rampant as with water since from the wealthy to the poor, we all enjoy the first 1,000 kilowatts at less than US$0.05kWh. The cost of generating that amount of electricity is well above the selling price. But in this land of absolute freedom and much freeness, we enjoy one of the lowest prices for power in the world. Who gives a damn! Even the average “scrunter” can pay more than that to power his humble home, complete with appliances. People above the poverty line should pay a little more than that; those well-off and the wealthy should pay open-market price to allow the utility to not just cover the cost of generating power, but to bring some profit to company and government.

Again, I’m not suggesting that all these necessary but affordable hikes to people in the upper- and middle-income brackets be imposed in one move. Because of the overall economic climate with the economy in deep recession and the national debt way above average, Government should implement them over a two-year period.

I shall return to this topic shortly.

8 thoughts on “Phase in rate hikes”

  1. Shah you should be paying more for water, a paltry $65 a month is an insult to your heavily loaded bank account, pension, NIS and military pension. This is why WASA loaded with mangers should be looking into. As for electricity that too should rise to $0.40 kWh. People cry too much in TnT. Rowley has brought people to Eden and like Cain they still not happy.

    And why is gasoline so low in TnT, Shah the price of gasoline in developed England is US $8.59 a gallon.( $58. TT. ). Think about how happy Trinis will be to pay $8.59 US per gallon. And why isn’t the government moving full speed ahead with the property tax? Commercial property tax could see the government realising over a few million dollars per property per year, and homes should start low and go higher each year. The President when she retires will be paid $1.4 million per year off the empty treasury.

    Now Shah you know TnT deficit under your friend Rowley has risen to over $135 billion. Who is going to pay for that? The only way forward is to raise taxes.

    By the way Shah the PNM has more foreign born in high positions. Rowley —P.M. Tobagonian by birth, current AG Dominican by birth, Imbert—Antiguan by birth, Al Rawi—Bagdadi by birth, and I am sure there is more. We can safely say only the UNC is a truly national party. What are your thoughts on this???

    1. Wait. The PM was born in Tobago and is NOT a national?
      So all Tobagonians are foreigners? Last I heard this land was the unitary state of Trinidad and Tobago. No wonder Tobago people don’t vote for the “truly national party.”

      1. The PM was born in Tobago yes. The point I am making is that he was not born in Trinidad. I fully understand the concept of a unitary state. But this is what the current leader of the THA have said “ WATSON DUKE, leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots, says it’s time to free Tobagonians from bondage – not through internal self-governance, but through full independence from Trinidad.
        He said this separation is not a call for war, but instead for Tobago to have the chance to unlock its ability to grow its economy.”.

        Watson and his current team want the maritime boundaries between Trinidad and Grenada clearly demarcated. MB Watson knows that underneath the sea bed have oil and he is not happy with the current 4% of the budgetary allocations to Tobago. Once they start drilling in Tobago water, Watson will demand the greater share. Currently Tobago gets more than all counties except St.George Port of Spain. Where there are a high percentage of PNM run corporations.

        So where will Rowley national identity reside when Tobago separates?

        1. So who died and made WATSON DUKE king of Trinidad and Tobago? Since APT James somebody from Tobago has talked about seceding from the Country. Until that happens people born in Tobago like those born in Caroni are nationals of Trinidad and Tobago. Putting them in the same category as Dominica and Antigua is nonsense. This is especially so if it is being used in a divisive way to promote the idea of who is a National and who is foreign and, moreover, which party is a truly national party and which is not.

          1. Dear MB
            When Indo Trinis go to Tobago they are treated as outsiders coming into Tobago. Perhaps your good soul do not remember the “Calcutta Ship” comment or maybe in your puerile mind you are not aware of the many racist thinkers on that island. You will find them on the PNM boat around election time going house to house telling voters that you have to vote PNM or that Indian lady will come and take your land. So much for national unity. It is okay for them however to come to work and buy property in Trinidad.

            The leaders the PNM elected in this current administration are foreigners as far as I am concern. What flagship project can they boast about after 7 years and spending more money than the UNC? Patrick Manning was the last great PNM leader and he did a lot for Trinidad. The current set of foreigners are fulling their pocket putting TnT into incredible debt. Under KPB a Penal/Siparia gal, you had Couva Hospital, started Point Fortin and Arima hospital, the El Dorrado Nursing Academy, the Teaching Hospital, the Carenage State of the Art Health Center and expanded health care services nationally….. and that is some out of many many projects. Kamla left 107 schools under construction and “ Dr Gopeesingh further noted: “Under my tenure as Minister of Education, we have constructed more than 83 new primary and secondary schools and over 83 ECCE centres, with another 90 under construction, and completed more than 4,500 infrastructural, repair and maintenance projects, in more than 850 schools. This is grounded in our firm belief that students, no matter where they come from, all deserve the equal opportunities for an education which is modern, relevant, safe and comfortable.”

            The point I am making MB is that when your navel string is buried in a country you fight for it.

  2. “The cost of generating that amount of electricity is well above the selling price.”
    Trinidad is 10 degrees north of the equator. What does that mean to the illiterates??? Trinidad has an abundance of renewable energy. If Trinidad partnered with Guyana (hardly likely under this regime) and fund the production of solar panels energy cost will take a huge leap downwards.

    During the recent climate change conference.
    Mia &Mohammed again upstaged Rowley on this file “ The government of Barbados, for example, has provided millions to support the country’s transition towards renewable energy. Solar water heating is used by more than 30,000 homes on the island. Minister of Energy, Wilfred Abrahams, promised that by the end of 2018, 2.6 MW of solar PV capacity would be installed across 16 public government buildings.

    While Barbados is still in the early stages, when it comes to green energy transition, Guyana has been promoting renewables on a more aggressive level. Thus, the government has developed a Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) that aims at replacing 100 percent of the country’s power supply with renewables by 2025”.

    Lower energy cost is a boom for manufacturing….

  3. “We take an almost perverse delight in wasting water. In this respect, there is no demarcation by wealth or poverty” According to the U.N. “ Sufficient. The water supply for each person must be sufficient and continuous for personal and domestic uses. These uses ordinarily include drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation, personal and household hygiene. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 50 and 100 litres of water per person per day are needed to ensure that most basic needs are met and few health concerns arise”

    Water is a basic right and should not be treated as though WASA is doing the citizens a favour by suppling them with clean drinking water. The water woes in TnT goes back to before independence and remains problematic to this day. In developed nations you turn on the tap and there is water.

    Dubai has some of the highest water consumption rates in the world, with average water consumption of 145 gallons of water per person. And it does not rain much in Dubai. In fact it is a desert, dry and covered with sand dunes.

    I am proud to say I have the solution to the water problems in TnT. Here it is
    Instead of getting water that is irregular and often times unavailable as soon as the dry season comes around. Citizens should be allowed to purchase water making machines. Problem solved.

  4. This is what happens when foreigners in charge…“What Lake Asphalt can offer better than anyone else in the world, however, is its flagship product, Trinidad Lake Asphalt (TLA), a proprietary blend made from the naturally occurring asphalt in the Pitch Lake.

    Natural asphalt is mined from the lake, processed and then shipped in heated drums around the world. Asphalt blends from the Pitch Lake have been used to pave the driveways of Buckingham Palace, runways in Germany and the Olympic Village in Beijing.”

    The roads in Trinidad is amongst the most deplorable in the Caribbean. It has always been that way once the foreigners are in charge. KPB put in box drain to protect the edges of the road and prevent damage to the road.

    When it came to gas the price was low because she saw it as the national patrimony. The foreigners came and remove subsidy and raised gas several times, putting in substandard gas. As usual their supporters said it is a small increase. They didn’t care.

    Go to Tobago, the buildings are majestic, the roads are in good condition, but take a drive through Papourie Road heading to Princes Town and you would think you are in the Congo. Again the foreigners don’t care about the nation, once their area fixed.

    The deficit is now a staggering $135 billion. The HSF has been raided many times, the Finance Minister sits in a dark room signs a few papers and boom there is a loan for $3 billion from China so he could pay government workers. This he repeats ever so often. He goes to the Central Bank and run up a deficit of over $40 billion not a dog bark. That is what foreign gets you.

    Keep voting foreign….

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