The Prime Minister has described the arrangement between the Government and the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) company Patriotic for the purchase of the Petrotrin refinery as a “beacon of hope” for this country. He was delivering the feature address at the 49th PNM General Convention held at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah.
“Imagine, if you will, a TT in which a trade union such as the OWTU, moving from being a strident and militant organisation constantly fighting against the government of the day for its survival, to an organisation that meaningfully takes a place at the commanding heights of the productive economy. This would represent a seismic shift towards that new society.”
Dr Rowley said Government recognised its role to provide the opportunity and a space of hope and vision for the OWTU as an organisation to move from worker representative to owner by enfranchising them as a commercial operator and taking up their role in the new society.
“This is what we can achieve when we look out for each other. These things are possible. Forces that pull against each other, if only they pull together can move mountains and put this country into places we would never have thought possible. And that is the real TT that we are after.”
He said while Government was working to provide an opportunity for this shift, “there are people so mired in their own self-interest, they stood in the way of bold and proud steps toward building the new society.”
He added: “Even when, as Prime Minister, I was personally attacked, racially profiled and called an ‘Oreo’ by the hapless lady and a burnt breadfruit by the marchers, and accused of an agenda to sell Petrotrin to the privileged one percent in my constituency, we still treated everyone with respect and maintained that faith in the decency embodied in the vast majority of our decent right-thinking citizens.
He said today OWTU has an opportunity to operate a refinery and that is the possibility of the new society. “If that is the legacy of the PNM working with the OWTU, can you imagine what we as a people, can accomplish if we were to all work together for the common good? If Patriotic reignites the flames at the Guaracara, Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, it will serve as a beacon of what is possible for every citizen of TT.”
He said Government was being advised that instead of closing the whole refinery operations it should have maintained it, if only to provide fuel for the local market to prevent importation.
“That means that we should operate our own refinery to produce 25,000 barrels/day as against 140,000 barrels capacity. According to them, that would have dealt with the foreign debt financing crisis at the company and the resultant uneconomic cost per gallon was of no consequence.”