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Wednesday 22 May 2019
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Analyst: Refinery closure unlikely to affect PNM’s fortunes

Dr Bishnu Ragoonath
Dr Bishnu Ragoonath

THE PLANNED closure of the Petrotrin refinery is unlikely to greatly impact the fortunes of the People’s National Movement (PNM) in the next elections, says political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath.

On Thursday after a meeting between Government and the unions on the closure the two parties remained at an impasse with the Government remaining steadfast in the decision while Joint Trade Union Movement leader and Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget accusing the government of “union-busting.”

Asked if the planned closure would affect the PNM’s ratings Ragoonath, in a telephone interview, said there was unlikely to be a great impact due to party loyalties.

“I don’t think that, as much as Mr Roget and the OWTU would like to think they have some degree of political support, I think party lines and party loyalties towards the PNM and the UNC run very deep, and I don’t think Mr Roget could command his members, or what will soon become his former members, in their support of that in the upcoming elections.

“If party loyalties remain the way they are, I don’t expect the planned closure to have any critical impact on the PNM’s fortunes in the next elections.”

He said if what the Prime Minister said comes to pass and the future ex-Petrotrin workers receive what will be “better than a golden handshake”, then he does not believe whatever Roget says will impact upon them.

“Because as far as they concerned economically, they would be well off. So we will really have to wait and see what kind of severance package is made available to them.”

On the impact of the closure of the refinery on the upcoming national budget, Ragoonath said Finance Minister Colm Imbert will have to find money to pay Petrotrin workers.

“And I am not sure where he is going to find that, but the Government alone knows where they going to find money.”

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