RIC pushes closer to WASA, T&TEC rate hikes

The Regulated Industries Commission will be consulting with members of the public in late April or early May on a proposed rate increase for the T&T Electricity Commission (T&TEC) and by the end of July or early August will hold public consultations on recommended increases for the Water and Sewerage Authority.

And although there is no guarantee that the recommended increases will be implemented those with the authority to implement the recommended increases are being urged to consider the current economic challenges before asking citizens to pay more for the utilities.

The issue of rate increases for the two public utilities came into focus yesterday when officials of the Regulated Industries Commission (RIC) appeared before the Local Authorities, Service Commissions and Statutory Authorities of Parliament yesterday to discuss the RIC’s efficiency and effectiveness.

Part of the mandate of the RIC is to recommend rate increases for WASA and T&TEC, but it also has the authority to monitor the providers of water and electricity to ensure there are efficiency and reliability of supply to consumers and that those charged with the provision of those services operate within set quality standards.

RIC chairperson Hyacinth Guy said the process for rate increases started in September last year and the Commission is on target for the time-frame set for determination which is June for T&TEC and August/September for WASA.

While members of the parliamentary committee, chaired by Independent Senator Ian Roach, expressed concern that implementing any such rate increase in the current economic circumstances will affect the most vulnerable citizens, executive director of the RIC Dr James Lee Young said the last rate increase for WASA was in 1993, that is 25 years ago.

In that time, he said, inflation had grown and so too had the utility’s customer base which now stands at over 400,000 consumers.

Lee Young said it was “unacceptable” that there had been no rate increase for more than two decades, saying “we should be doing rate reviews every five years to keep current, but that has not happened.”

The end result, he said, is that WASA has suffered revenue shortfalls.

On the other hand, he said, the last T&TEC rate review was in 2006 which he said: “put them in a relatively good place to finance activities and pay its way.”

Asked by Roach why there was no rate increase for WASA for such a long time, Lee Young said that in 2012 the RIC “attempted to put forward a rate review” and did the technical work in-house for T&TEC and WASA, but he said “the proposal was put to the board at the time and not carried forward.”

He could not say why since he only joined the RIC in August last year.

Asked how soon after the rates are determined they will be actualised, Lee Young said actual implementation is up to Corporation Sole and the Government. In 2006, he said, the RIC recommended increases for T&TEC in June or July but the increases for consumers were implemented two years later.

Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Rosemarie Sant)

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