CONCERNED about the financial woes being experienced by Lake Asphalt of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT), whose employees have not received a salary for three consecutive weeks, Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh is calling on the Government to come clean on the true financial status of the company.
He also appealed to Government to make public the report of the inter-ministerial committee which was appointed by the Prime Minister and chaired by Public Administration and Digital Transformation Minister Allyson West to assess and make recommendations for the company’s future.
“These reports provoke deep concern for the workers of this company, who have been consistently left hanging in the balance by the management, the Energy Ministry and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
He reminded Newsday that late energy minister Franklin Khan – under which ministry Lake Asphalt falls – had said he was not in a position to disclose the contents of the report.
“The Opposition is calling on Khan's replacement Mr Stuart Young to stop hiding the Lake Asphalt report and make it public now.
“This administration must be transparent and upfront about the current position of the company, plans for its future and the company’s assets.”
Labour Minister and La Brea MP Stephen Mc Clashie told Newsday in January that the report was submitted to the Prime Minister who was supposed to discuss it with the Cabinet. Mc Clashie did not respond to queries about the current status of the report.
Reacting to CEO Roger Wiggins's admission that the company was experiencing a cash-flow problem due to the pandemic, intense competition and contracting markets, Indarsingh said the report raises wider concerns about the Government’s intentions for the company.
The dire financial straits in which the company is now embroiled has left LATT unable to meet its salary and wage commitments to employees.
Weekly paid workers had not received a salary since the start of May. Last Thursday the company was able to scramble enough cash to meet one week’s salary commitment.
Indarsingh said, “It cannot be that in these economically extenuating circumstances, characterised by a contracting economy and by a pandemic that workers are not being paid on time.
“The failure of the management to pay workers on time will undoubtedly displace workers within the La Brea community, many of whom rely on the company as their only source of income and as a driver of economic activity in that community.”
Long before the pandemic, he said, “we have been hearing excuses from the leadership of the company that international markets have contracted and that there are challenges with the company’s cash flow. How long will the company continue to exist with these cash-flow problems?"