Public on proposed electricity-rate increase: Raise our salaries first

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Pensioner Earl Joseph shared his views on the proposed TTEC rate increases with Newsday on Friday. Photo by Roger Jacob

Following the announcement of a proposed increase in electricity rates by the Regulated Industries Commission on Thursday, the general sentiment from people on the street in Port of Spain was that the proposed electricity rate increases would put additional pressure on an already struggling population.

The regulator proposed increase of between 15 and 64 per cent, depending on consumption. The RIC also proposed three changes to residential rates, including a monthly billing cycle instead of a bill every two months, a widening of 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.

Most people said an increase in salary in both the public and private sectors would enable them to better contribute to the economy.

Nathiah Antoine from Cocorite said lack of employment and adequate wages meant that families would struggle with an increase in their bills.

“You have to be working to pay for electricity. If employers would increase the rates of pay, it would be better for a lot of people. Government offering a four per cent increase to public sector workers, but private sector workers don’t really get anything either, so if they offer something more people will be able to see their way. Look how many families don’t have anything, and then the money they’re giving you it’s still not working, you still have to try to make something small on the side. Help the people so they can help you.”

Tylon from St James said the increase would impact everyone differently depending on the size of their bills. He said he hadn’t taken an in-depth look at the proposals put out by the RIC other than knowing that they wanted to increase the rates.

“It’s putting a little extra pressure on somebody else for a utility bill, that’s hard. An increase of $17 may not be much to someone who has a low bill to pay but in terms of somebody who have a $200, $300 bill to pay, that extra per cent is going to cut out of someone else’s money that they’re putting it toward to.”’

A vendor on Frederick Street said with the cost of living going up, increasing the electricity rates would increase some people’s suffering. He said he felt the RIC could wait to implement the rate increases.

“Some people would feel it but others would not. Things already hard.”

C Joseph from Tunapuna said he hasn’t looked at the proposal and couldn’t say how it would affect him as he hasn’t seen a light bill in a while.

“That increase is plenty. The way electronics is now, it’s pulling more current. That’s more money, that’s unfair. It have some people already paying $400-$500 every other month. Even if they give a monthly bill, it’s still more money.”

Pensioner Earl Joseph said the change in the rates didn’t make a difference to him.

“I don’t have to pay that money. I have a discount on my bill because of my age, I’m 70, so they could do what they want. I’m sorry for who have to pay it though.”

Rose from Chaguanas said she was initially angry when she first heard about the proposed rate increase.

“But then I said if that’s how the economy has to function, they have to raise certain things for us to function to live properly, then that’s how it has to be. At the end of the day, you have people living from pay cheque to pay cheque, it real hard and then to come to have an increase in light bill and all these different things, that’s something really disappointing for us because there are people who are really suffering, life real hard. I just passed a lady with a baby on the side of the road begging, it’s real heart-rending.

“So besides studying to raise this and raise that, study to give people a proper salary. We’re already seen as a Third World country but if they give us a proper salary it wouldn’t be so bad. You’re working for next to nothing and the cost of living is very high, so I’d really like for them to do a different infrastructure to make things better for people so we could live and not just who have living and the poor suffering. That’s my take on it.”