THE Government is dubiously pinning its economic hopes on a rise in natural gas production to four billion cubic feet per day, now clouded in uncertainty over questions over bpTT’s recent announcement of drilling four dry gas well, Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, Congress of the People leader, told Newsday yesterday.
“They put all their eggs in one basket. They’ll be disappointed,” she predicted. She said the Government should have insisted the National Gas Company insert penalty clauses in contracts with upstream producers for any failure by the latter to deliver gas.
“The Government has not said how to bring in smaller operators to go after the smaller pools of gas.”
Seepersad-Bachan also said that with questions over the energy sector, the Government in its Mid Year Review had failed to state any plans to diversify the economy into non-energy sectors.
Seepersad-Bachan challenged Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s boast of a positive balance of trade. Firstly she said the Government had dubiously begun to classify ammonia and methanol as exports when in fact local manufacturers were complaining of low demand and low access to foreign exchange. Secondly, she said a decline in imports could simply reflect a drop in the standard of life in TT and people’s consumption. On that note, she said the review had failed to recognise the very tough times people at facing at ground level in TT due to joblessness. “The middle class is disappearing. Every day I hear of people who are losing their jobs.” Doctors, lawyers and engineers now languish among the unemployed, she said. Seepersad-Bachan asked whether the proposed La Brea dry dock would hire Petrotrin ex-workers, whose skill sets may not match those required, and asked how long that project would take to get up and running.
“The Government is giving the impression of full employment, but that’s not the reality on the ground.”
Of the Government’s $1 billion roadworks proposed elsewhere, she said, “Why not get sustainable, meaningful jobs, rather than makeshift jobs for an election season?”