Government’s lack of accountability and transparency is being blamed for a falling-out between the Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU) and the Opposition UNC.That’s the view of Oropouche MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, who, in a phone interview, said the sale of the former Petrotrin refinery could proceed, as long as there is confidence in the bid process.“The government must conduct the matter in transparency, disclosure and confidence and therefore they can proceed before or after there is an election– no problem.
“The government itself is at fault in this matter.”Moonilal was responding to OWTU president general Ancel Roget statements on Thursday in response to claims by Moonilal. On Tuesday, during the budget debate, Moonilal claimed to have found a paper trail showing foul play in plans for the acquisition of the refinery by OWTU’s Patriotic Energies and Technologies Co Ltd.He claimed SunStone Equity of Suriname was a major player, and said he had photographs of people “strongly resembling” Roget, MSJ leader David Abdulah and SunStone CEO and founder John Van Dyke at a table, “at a house or office somewhere,” signing documents.At a media conference on Thursday, Roget said the picture was taken at his offices at the OWTU’s Paramount Building, San Fernando headquarters, and Sunstone was no longer part of the union’s consortium, which emerged the preferred bidder for the refinery and its assets.Roget accused Moonilal of using the cover of parliamentary privilege to make wild assertions and tell tall tales, knowing he would not be held accountable.But yesterday, Moonilal said the issue was “accountability and transparency’ and not “just not a matter of politics.”“The issue is not the room it was signed in, or office. There is a discrepancy with that. That is not the issue at all.
"The issue is that the government ought to take more meticulous care in handling such a transaction. After all we are dealing effectively with an asset worth over $5 billion, an asset that took US$11 billion investment between the (Patrick) Manning and (Kamla) Persad-Bissessar administrations between 2006 and 2013 for the upgrades of the refinery and its assets.“Today it is being sold for $5 billion-plus and government is not exercising diligence, they are not being transparent in the process.“This is not a matter to exert sound and fury, that is irrelevant. What is relevant here is that the government must conduct itself with transparency.”
Moonilal said the nation only became aware that the union’s relationship with SunStone had not only collapsed but that the union still owes Sunstone money since his statement in Parliament. “That is a serious matter, in that the government ought to have done proper diligence on companies involved in bidding.
The government ought to know that – not the OWTU, the government is at fault in that they are not conducting this matter with the level of rigorous diligence that is required for a multibillion transaction.”On Roget’s 48-hour ultimatum to the UNC leader to endorse Moonilal's claims, Moonilal wondered why Roget had not issued a similar ultimatum to the Prime Minister when it became known that the government was about to close down Petrotrin last year.
He said with the OWTU’S energy company still having to fulfil the ten criteria for government’s selection committee, Roget should use the remaining time to indicate how many of the criteria the OWTU had satisfied.