PRIME Minister Dr Keith Rowley has responded to Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget’s appeal not to shut down Petrotrin by assuring government would give any “acceptable business proposal” the union presents, the dignity and respect it deserves.
He also denied conspiracy theories of secret arrangements being made to dispose of the assets of Petrotrin.
Responding to a letter sent earlier this week from Roget who asked Rowley to consider the OWTU’s proposal to restructure Petrotrin instead of shutting down its refinery, Rowley said he is prepared to give workers some facilitation so long as it is within reasonable transactional arrangements.
Rowley added that if more attractive proposals become available, then the interests of the taxpayer will take priority.
The OWTU’s proposal has also been sent to the Board of Petrotrin and Rowley noted that the Board has indicated it will not hesitate to treat with and advise Cabinet, if a superior proposal is presented.
In his letter to Roget, Rowley said he has not been advised such a situation now exists.
However, he noted that Cabinet does not advise itself on this very weighty and complex matter and has used the expertise from technical and financial sources before coming to a decision.
In a similar manner, Rowley said, Cabinet expects other proposals to be dealt with.
Roget in his letter noted the adverse impact the closure of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and the decision to put all 4,700 workers on the breadline, will have on their lives as well as the major social dislocation to people who reside in the south Trinidad.
Rowley said, “We are aware that in the short term there will be hardships and concerns of our people to be dealt with, but we have every confidence that in the medium to long term, the outcome will be to the benefit of the wider national community.”
The letter to Rowley from Roget was a last ditch effort to stave off closure of the refinery. “We respectfully maintain that the shutting down of our country’s only refinery will seriously threaten our country’s energy security and ultimately adversely impact the economy,” Roget said.
He said the union’s proposal addresses all areas of concerns raised by the government, as it relates to, among others, adequate crude supply, oil production, productivity, the debt, inefficiencies and asset integrity. With a totally restructured Petrotrin with its new mandate, Roget said the union’s proposal would not require any government guarantee or funding and would certainly positively impact the country’s credit rating.