President of the Arima Business Association Reval Chattergoon

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Faced with a possible increase in the rates of public utilities, the president of the Arima Business Association Reval Chatoorgoon is calling on the government to hold its hand on any such increases.

Speaking to Guardian Media, Chattergoon said while the present rates are lower than most worldwide rates, any increase during an economic downturn will cause even more hardship to citizens. Chattergoon said the effects of a pandemic is already crippling citizens and putting a strain on all the institutions of the State.

Saying the government must begin fixing the wastage that occurs in all Government agencies, Chattergoon said this wastage occurs not just with utility service providers.

“Wastages in the form of overstaffing, rewarding underperforming staff/departments, mismanagement of company resources, inferior workmanship, breaches of company policies need to be fixed,” he added.

Chattergoon also said that any increases would be deemed unfair.

“It is unfair to impose onto the population rate increases when these inefficiencies remain with no sign of immediate remedial action,” he said.

Noting that there was a need to regain public confidence in these State institutions, Chattergoon said transparency and accountability were needed.

He added, “One must understand that businesses and industries already pay more than the average consumer under ‘Commercial’ rate schedules despite receiving the same quality of service as the Residential classification.

“Any increases in utility rates would ultimately trickle down to the consumers who are already faced with lowered disposable income due to COVID-19. Is an increase in rates an indicator that consumers will experience increased quality of service and customer service?” he asked.

Chattergoon also added, “Will our appliances be saved from the regular power dips and surges? Will the days of water schedules be finally gone and all paying citizens can get a daily supply of pipe-borne water? Can the decision-makers guarantee that increases in utility rates will return profits to repay the millions owed to creditors? “

Chattergoon said the “citizens and businesses of T&T could not afford to fund or continue to fund inefficiencies in the public service.”

“We as consumers are presently not getting value for money,” he added.

Last December Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales said the current public utility rates must increase if there are to be greater efficiency in the delivery of utilities.

Earlier this week, economist Dr Terrence Farrel told Guardian Media that the T&T economy is in deep trouble and Finance Minister Colm Imbert could not avoid cutting the Public Service and increasing the cost of utilities.