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Sunday 21 July 2019
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PM puts career on the line

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

SO convinced is the Prime Minister that government has taken the right decision on the restructuring of Petrotrin, that he is prepared to put his political career on the line to prove it.

Dr Rowley told a People’s National Movement (PNM) meeting on Tuesday night in Marabella – a stone’s throw away from the Petrotrin refinery, which is facing closure due to rising debt – if the decision will cost him the next general election, it is a price he is willing to pay.

“I am prepared to sacrifice my parliamentary and my political future doing what is right for the children of TT.” He referred to newspaper columnists writing after the announcement of the closure, and separation of workers, that he had signed his 2020 election death warrant.

“If it is that this will put us out of office, then history would have absolved me. As for those who are calling for elections, elections will come and you, the caller, you only have one vote. Everybody else has a vote in this country, and at that time you will determine whether you elected a government that has the strength of character, and the moral fortitude, to do what has to be done to give TT a better chance.”

He said some politicians saw this as an opportunity to resurrect themselves, but told his supporters he had confidence in them and: “If I miscalculate on that, then surely I will accept the verdict of you, the jury.”

In that case, he said, he would thank them for the opportunity they gave him to serve and bow out gracefully.

Rowley said the difference between him and his predecessors – who knew the Petrotrin refinery was bleeding the country dry but refused to fix the problem – is that he is not in love with office.

He said for one-and-a-half years his government sought the best brains to analyse the Petrotrin situation. With the US$850 million bullet payment due in months, they had to take the hard decision to restructure the company to earn revenue and not plunge it into further debt.

He said if the government did nothing, it ran the risk of being downgraded by the international ratings company, which would mean Petrotrin would face high interest rates in future borrowing. In some cases, he said, lending agencies might refuse to lend TT money.

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