THE Prime Minister yesterday twice alluded his approval to the continuation in office of Wilfred Espinet as chairman of Paria Fuel Trading Company, replying to Questions to the Prime Minister in the House of Representatives. The question arose after Espinet had initially advocated Paria’s sale, only to be overruled by Energy Minister Franklin Khan.
Asked by Princes Town MP Barry Padarath if he had met Espinet to discuss how requests for proposals had been advertised for Paria but then retracted, the PM replied, “No.”
Padarath asked if he had confidence in Espinet as Paria chairman.
Rowley replied, “Whenever an appointment is made by the Government in the state enterprise sector, if it is that the Government has no confidence in the appointee, the Government will act appropriately.” Padarath deduced, “So the answer is yes.” The PM’s second nod to Espinet came after Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh asked if Espinet had got the Government’s approval negotiate a US$1.4 billion loan, for debts under the former Petrotrin. Rowley replied, “The answer is yes.”
In a fresh question to the PM, Couva South MP Rudy Indarsingh asked how many ex-employees of Petrotrin had been hired by its successor companies, Paria, Heritage and Guaracara (as originally envisaged by the Government on initially touting Petrotrin’s restructuring.) The PM did not have the details. Indarsingh asked if CEOs had been recruited at the Paria and Guaracara Companies.
Rowley replied that officers are running those companies in the capacities of CEOs and Chief Financial Officers, and the line minister could answer further. Chaguanas West MP Ganga Singh asked if Paria has made a profit, and the PM promised to get a reply if the question is properly filed, but noted the first year of Paria had not yet been concluded.