Reval Chattergoon, president of the Arima Business Association (ABA).

President of the Arima Business Association, Reval Chattergoon, is calling on Government to ensure that State utility companies improve the quality of their service delivery before they are allowed to increase their rates.

In an official statement issued on the matter, Mr Chattergoon argues for an end to wastage in the public sector, and points out that any hike in utility rates would be “rewarding underperforming staff/departments” and the “mismanagement of company resources”.

He also points to the current economic hardship already being experienced by many in this country as another reason Government should stay its hand on rate increases.

The full text of the statement from the Association, follows…

Fix internal inefficiencies before imposing increased utility rates

The Arima Business Association is asking Government to hold its hand with increasing utility rates at this time.  While the present rates are lower than most worldwide rates, any increase during an economic downturn and the effects of a pandemic would cripple the citizens and already fragile institutions.

The Arima Business Association (ABA) would like to see a conscious effort be placed on fixing the wastage that occurs in all Government agencies, not just utility service providers.

In other words, wastages in the form of overstaffing, rewarding underperforming staff/departments, mismanagement of company resources, inferior workmanship, breaches of company policies, etc. need to be fixed. It is unfair to impose onto the population rate increases when these inefficiencies remain with no sign of immediate remedial action. If remedial measures are already being executed, same should be communicated to the public in detail to gain public confidence that the decision makers of these institutions hold in high regard transparency and accountability for their decisions.

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? 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? Can they guarantee that they would not need subventions and funding by Government via taxpayers?

The citizens and businesses of this country cannot afford to fund or continue to fund inefficiencies in the public service because we as consumers are presently not getting value for money.

Reval Chattergoon