THE EDITOR: The latest twist on the ongoing Petrotrin saga is concern about how the “fence-line communities” are going to be affected now that the salaries of the Petrotrin workers will not be spent on the goods and services in these areas. This concern has been raised by the OWTU leaders in order to inflate the numbers of affected people, so that the union would not look as though it was only looking out for its narrow self-interest.
However, the issue has also been brought up by economists who are not in agreement with the closure of the refinery. But consistency requires that, if the refinery closure is seen as economically necessary, so too must the domino effects. After all, the refinery is being closed because Petrotrin was taking tax dollars rather than contributing to national revenues. If that is so, it necessarily follows that the businesses in the fence-line communities were also parasitic on the TT economy as a whole.
This is the crux of the matter. One cannot make economic prescriptions by looking at what is only good for one group or one sector of the economy. It is necessary to examine both the seen as well as the unseen effects. If there are businesses which were dependent on a corrupt and inefficient state company, this means that the entrepreneurial efforts of those business people was not being utilised in the most efficient way possible. In this sense, the “creative destruction” caused by the refinery closure will, in the long run, help the national economy.
Elton Singh, Couva