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Sunday 25 August 2019
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Opposition accuses govt of planning refinery sale since 2015

File photo: The Petrotrin refinery at Point-a-Pierre. The Government has announded that the 101-year-old refinery would be shut down.
PHOTO BY ANIL RAMPERSAD.
File photo: The Petrotrin refinery at Point-a-Pierre. The Government has announded that the 101-year-old refinery would be shut down. PHOTO BY ANIL RAMPERSAD.

The Opposition is “fast afoot” to prevent the government from implementing its plan to decommission Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, senator Gerald Ramdeen has said, even as he admitted there was not much they could do.

“The truth about it is the Opposition is not in power, so we are not in a position to say we can impact a decision made by the Cabinet and the Government to sell the refinery. But as has been demonstrated before and should not be taken lightly, when the people of TT come together for a common cause against any administration, it is the people who have the power to influence the decisions of what happens in this country. If (Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley) thinks he can make this decision that will affect over 100,000 families in this country at his whim and fancy, that’s not going to happen,” Ramdeen said at the Opposition’s Sunday media conference, yesterday.

It is clear, he added, that the government has taken this decision to shut down the refinery, but not thought through the effects.

He accused the government of planning to sell the refinery since they assumed office three years ago.

“(This) is the end result of a calculated, intentional and deliberate plan by this government to make and paint Petrotrin in a particular way, to try and sell the idea to the people of this country that at the end of the day, this is in their best interest,” he said. Asked if he had proof to back up this allegation, Ramdeen said he did not, but no “reasonably minded person is going to come to any other conclusion.”

His colleague, Wade Mark, called the shut down “premeditated, calculated and deliberate.”

“The government is engaging in false information. When we look at the data coming from the Ministry of Energy and the facts coming out of Petrotrin, and listen to the public utterance of (Energy Minister) Franklin Khan and the Prime Minister and his other agents it is at odds, so who is talking the truth?” Mark said.

He cited the initial statement from Petrotrin that all 1,700 staff at the refinery would be cut, comparing it to recent reports by the state oil company’s chairman, Wilfred Espinet, who had reportedly said all workers throughout the company would be retrenched.

“First they said 1,700, now we are being told 3,500. The total labour force is over 5,000, so is the real number? Where are we going? What you have is a government that is specialising in peddling lies untruths, innuendoes and fake news. And they accuse us of being unpatriotic. I accuse the government of being fake patriots,” Mark said.

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