Paray: TT facing economic crisis similar to 1980s

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Mayaro MP Rushton Paray. – SUREASH CHOLAI

PREDICTING the worst cost of living crisis in TT, Mayaro MP Ruston Paray said real and substantive changes are needed in 2023 to prevent an even more catastrophic year.

He fears a repeat of the 1980s, when the economy was sagging and people packed their bags and fled to other countries, seeking refugee status.

Speaking at the UNC’s weekly Sunday media conference, Paray said the proposed imposition of the most severe electricity rate increase ever, could spell further disaster.

He was joined by MP Anita Haynes who addressed issues relating to the education sector and Senator Wade Mark who delved into the unsuitability of Christine Kangaloo as the PM’s pick for the presidency.

Paray pointed out that at no time in the history of the region has there been a hike in electricity rates of up to 65 per cent for residential customers, and 128 per cent for commercial and industrial users.

He foresees this causing many small and medium sized businesses, “turning off their lights.”

Contrary to government’s belief this increase would create more revenue, Paray said the reality is hundreds of thousands of people will not be able to see their way if this is implemented

“With the Government’s continued failure to outline a clear plan to deal with inflation as well as with the erosion of independent voices at the Central Bank, our nation is now facing the real and frightening prospect of the worst cost of living crisis in our history.”

Along with proposed electricity hikes are pending increases in rates and tariffs for the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), imposition of property tax which Paray said will further hurt businesses, home-owners and renters, plus the possibility of the fuel subsidy being completely removed.

At the best of times, he said, such harsh increases would have adverse effects on the cost of doing business and consumers’ purchasing power and cause more domestic suffering. But these are not the best of times.

“These rate increases are being imposed while TT is undergoing its worst economic and social crisis since the mid-1980s.”

He drew a parallel between now and that time period when unemployment and poverty were at record levels, public officers were denied pay increases, and nuisance taxes were imposed on virtually everything that moved.

With the mismanagement of the economy by a PNM Government after the energy boom of the mid-1970s, Paray said, “sadly I fear history is about to repeat itself. Today, the economic disaster is equally grave, and the reason is similar – gross mishandling of the economy by the PNM regime.”