Sunday 24 March, 2019

WASA and T&TEC rate hike soon? RIC to begin public consultations

The Regulated Industries Commission (RIC) will begin public consultations in the coming months, as it continues price reviews for the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) and the Water and Sewerage Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (WASA).

This was revealed at a meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Local Authorities, Service Commissions and Statutory Authorities into the efficiency and effectiveness of the RIC.

Chairman of the RIC Dr. Hyacinth Guy told the committee that the process began last September and the Commission is on target for the time frame set.

She said the target date for T&TEC is June and WASA by August/September.

“Around September we began the rate review process for the electricity and water and waste sectors. Those reviews are on target for the most part and we expect that we will fulfill the mandate that we have within the time frame that we have set for ourselves,” Guy noted.

Public consultations for T&TEC will commence in April/May and WASA in July/August.

The RIC says the consultations will take place across Trinidad and Tobago.

Meanwhile, Joint Select Committee member Nigel DeFrietas questioned if in the rate review, the premise is that the revenue generated by these public utilities now, is causing the quality of service they are giving and therefore a justification can be made for a rate increase.

This as DeFrietas noted that there are people in the country who would say the quality of service is poor and would question why they should pay more, if this may be the case.

RIC Executive Dr Director James Lee Young agreed that this is clearly a big issue.

However, he noted that in the case of WASA, the last rate review was in 1993.

“If I can back up, the last rate increase for WASA was in 1993. They’ve had 24 years with no rate increases. Since that time obviously inflation etc. their customer base has expanded but their revenue is insufficient to support their operations. So to a large extent, the problems that we see today with some of the utilities rise out of their inability to finance their activities.”

The Executive Director of the RIC said so many years without a rate review is unacceptable.

He said rate reviews should be done every five years in order to keep current.

Lee Young added that T&TEC had its last rate review in 2006.

He said this puts them in a relatively good place to finance their activities.

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