THE Prime Minister has urged citizens to be aware and prepared for difficult times ahead.
At the PNM’s 67th anniversary at the National Academy for Performing Arts, Port of Spain, on Sunday afternoon, Dr Rowley said, “In the most uncertain future, at least we have made significant strides we are respected internationally but the road ahead is not going to be a permanently smooth one. In fact, when we look at all economic possibilities, we look at the demands of our children. The requirement for healthcare and attention to our elderly, challenges are all very similar.
“I don't want you for one minute to believe that is going to be plain sailing in TT. There are difficult times ahead and you have to prepare for the difficult times.
"It’s not everything that we have been accustomed to that we can claim as an entitlement because we have to be able to manage the change and survive within that changing environment.
“We did not change when you're told that we have enough gas for the last 10 or 12 years and the rate at which we're consuming it. No more new gas is being made. Some more can be found. But I want you to lean forward, it is but before you look back eight years ago and then come forward to today. So you have a feel for what an eight-year period is like and put yourself in our eight to 12-year period where things can change significantly if we are not able to find the resources to earn the revenues to give you what you have been accustomed to.”
He said the government has been and continues to bear most of the burden to bar citizens from the effects of the economic fallout.
But soon, citizens would have to take up some of the burdens to secure TT’s future.
This is why he felt the Regulated Industries Commission’s (RIC) ongoing public consultation for the proposed TTEC electricity rate increase is timely.
Rowley, after criticising the opposition for attempting to sabotage the process, said, “And they say ‘Not at this time.’ Okay, fine. Which time? When is it ever a good time? Because every time there are challenges, there are always challenges.”
“There's a bill rolling at the top of that supply of billions of dollars which would remain unpaid paper. Central government is paying that bill outside of your view. That’s the bill that TTEC owes the National Gas Company... If you do the accounts, receivables and payables (of TTEC) you will see that there's a significant gap here, it is called bankruptcy."
He further accused the opposition of politicking the process to defeat the purpose of the existence of the RIC.
“They (RIC) go out there to conduct the consultation and political failures try to take over the process. And every night is the same political failures telling the people of TT that the RIC is the devil, the government is wicked and the proposals are unconscionable.
“What is unconscionable is if we do not rectify the situation, put some ease in place for TTEC and avoid TTEC being in a position where they have to cut the service to the nation because they cannot pay the bill and the raw material isn't available."
He warned the public, “Don't let anybody come insult your intelligence and tell you because there is oil and gas in TT the government should not or the state should not ask anybody to pay anymore.”