Princes Town MP Barry Padarath highllight figures during the UNC’s press conference at the Office of the Opposition Leader, Charles Street, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. At, right, Chief Whip David Lee.

Before any move is made to change water and electricity rates, the government must indicate what price T&TEC is paying for gas from the National Gas Company.

So said Princes Town MP Barry Padarath during the UNC’s press conference held yesterday.

Padarath said it appeared that the Regulated Industries Commission was being manipulated by the government.

“The government must say whether they have removed in whole or in part the gas subsidy. Gas is sold to TTEC and negotiated through NGC that would inform new prices,” he said.

He added, “The RIC must say why they have made no allocations for public consultations. They must not use the SoE and COVID regulations to stifle the views of citizens.”

Padarath also alleged that online consultations were a farce.

“Government will use its heavy hand to silence people by ensuring they don’t participate in public consultations. This thing about sending your emails and messages will not work. The Government is using COVID-19 situation as an excuse not to give a voice to the people of T&T,” he added.

Padarath also questioned the reason for major cuts to WASA.

“$232 million was cut for contract employment, $100 million for materials and supplies? Is it to emasculate and demonize WASA for privatization to friends, families and financiers?” he added.

He reiterated, “The RIC must not be manipulated by government and must fulfil their statutory obligation to hold public consultations. Part of the process is to evaluate the satisfaction of the service. With massive cuts to WASA this year and the problems at both WASA and T&TEC is it an attempt to further demonize these institutions.”

Padarath also said the government must say whether TTEC is bankrupt.

“They currently owe NGC billions of dollars and the Finance Minister in February said they took a $5 billion loan to put in NGC books as it relates to the debt T&TEC owes NGC. However, the Minister did not say that the debt is written off. Thereby leaving T&TEC with the billions they owe,” Padarath added.

He said people across the country were suffering for water particularly in South and Central Trinidad, noting that the RIC must ensure that they consult with the people of Trinidad and Tobago.