WEEKS after the Prime Minister publicly challenged the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) to sign-off and take ownership of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, before the August 10 general election, Energy Minister Franklin Khan said on Tuesday he saw no impediment to negotiations being concluded in the coming weeks or months.
Speaking at the formal opening of NP’s O’Meara service station, Khan responded to OWTU president general Ancel Roget, who on Monday said it would be in Rowley’s best interest to take control of discussions and sign off on the acquisition before the election next Monday.
“When the OWTU takes the initiative to go public on such sensitive commercial negotiations, I think they are going down the wrong path,” Khan said. He added that government has been in negotiations with the OWTU’s Patriotic Energies and Technologies Ltd on a sales and purchase agreement for the refinery for close to a year.
“The negotiation team has been meeting regularly,” he said, “but I want to make the point, the sales and purchase agreement for the former Petrotrin refinery is an extremely complex legal agreement. It is not something government will blindly sign. We have a responsibility to seek the public’s interest.” He said the sale of the refinery is not an election matter, but rather a “sophisticated commercial arrangement.”
He said as line minister, it is his responsibility to provide Cabinet with an agreement that he is comfortable with. “It calls for sophisticated negotiations, which are in a very advanced state. The arrangements to conclude these negotiations will be done in the shortest possible time.”
Khan recalled a statement by Dr Rowley on July 1, when he indicated negotiations between the state and the union would be signed shortly. He said the Prime Minister takes his responsibility seriously. “His word means something and will not be swayed by lustre and threats to do things not in the public interest.” He then gave his timeline for the deal to be concluded. “I see no impediment in concluding this agreement in the coming weeks or months ahead. That stands.” He added once the refinery reopens, jobs will be created but it cannot be opened as a state enterprise.
“Patriotic will be bringing in foreign direct capital injection (and) we welcome it. I think the election is clouding people’s clarity of vision.” Khan also complimented Paria Trading Ltd for a “seamless transition from Petrotrin to our present state.”
He said despite the upheaval that came with the restructuring of Petrotrin, the country was never short of liquid fuels, gasoline, or diesel. “It is now on the public record that the restructuring is beginning to pay positive results,” he said.