Princes Town MP Barry Padarath.

Princes Town MP, Barry Padarath is taking Minister of Public Utilities, Marvin Gonzales to task for his comments that citizens must pay their utility bills in order to get a better service. In a press release Padarath says the minister should be addressing the problems at WASA and T&TEC and not turning his guns on the citizens. 

Princes Town MP, Barry Padarath has taken the Minister of Public Utilities, Marvin Gonzales to task for his comments that citizens must pay their utility bills in order to get a better service. The Minister was quoted when he spoke at the La Veronica RC Church, Lopinot, on Tuesday at the launch of the Water and Sewerage Authority’s (WASA) Community Water Improvement Programme and the commissioning of streetlights. 

Padarath indicated that WASA had been cut in this year’s budget allocation by 321 Million dollars in the areas of manpower and material and supplies and instead of the Minister addressing the problems at WASA and T&TEC, he turns his guns on the citizens of the country. 

The MP stated that he wanted to advise the Minister that thousands of customers religiously pay their utility bills and cannot get a reliable supply of pipe borne water for weeks and months in many parts of Trinidad and Tobago.  Further, the majority of outstanding arrears for WASA and T&TEC are from customers in the public sector, these include Ministries and Government Offices. Padarath further questioned what steps has the Minister taken to retrieve all outstanding arrears from the public sector for WASA and TTEC. 

The Opposition Shadow Minister for Public Utilities indicated that the mixed signals and bipolar approach of Minister Gonzales in addressing the issues in public utilities gives the population the impression that he does not know what he is doing. This is evident when the Minister demonises WASA employees and the systems at WASA and then the next day goes to Laventille to open a stand pipe and praises the same employees and systems. 

The Princes Town MP has called on the Minister to get down to serious work and provide an update on government’s plans to make WASA and T&TEC more efficient. He further called on the Minister to make public whether the government has removed the subsidy in whole or in part with respect to the price NGC will sell natural gas to T&TEC. 

Padarath said that blaming citizens and employees for the problems in the public utilities sector is not the answer to the problems. Thousands of citizens pay their bills on time and are still deprived of a proper service because of government’s incompetence, spite and mismanagement. He added that over one year has elapsed since Minister Gonzales promised sweeping changes to the sector and the only change, he has brought is making things worse off than how he met it.