If you were wondering why banks were reducing their limits on credit cards and why there were issues for some accessing foreign exchange, Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget has the answer – it’s because the PNM closed down the Petrotrin refinery, costing the country billions in foreign exchange.
“People do not make the connection between government policy and their suffering on a daily basis,” Roget said at a Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) press conference at the BIGWU headquarters on Eighth Street, Barataria.
“We continuously see that bad government policy, no government policy and, especially with this PNM government, policy by vaps, results in the suffering to the people.
“When we said to TT the closure of Petrotrin will result in not just suffering to the workers, or not just suffering to the 40,000 families in the southwestern peninsula, or not just to the contractors connected to Petrotrin, everyone laughed…now the chickens have come home to roost.”
He said Petrotrin was an economic hub around which the rest of the economy revolved. Roget said the Petrotrin refinery, which was rendered defunct by Government in 2018, brought in between US$4 billion and US$5 billion in foreign exchange.
“That no longer comes to our economy with the closure of Petrotrin and the shutting down of the refinery. So this country is losing billions of dollars in foreign exchange as a result of bad government policy.”
In 2021, Heritage Petroleum earned $1 billion in profits for 2020, at the height of the covid19 pandemic, when the price of West Texas intermediate traded as low as US$37.63 and Brent crude as low as US$20 a barrel. That same year, oil prices plummeted to below US$0 per barrel.
On Friday, oilprice.com indicated that WTI crude is now selling at US$90.03 per barrel and Brent at US$93.27.
He also said Paria Fuel Trading Co, which buys fuel internationally since the closure of the refinery, spent $884 million between October 1, 2022 and May 31, 2023.
He argued that because of the reduced earnings coming from what he claimed was lower revenue due to Petrotrin’s closure, the country and banks do not have the necessary foreign exchange to maintain high credit limits.
Republic Bank announced that effective September 21, it would halve the maximum US-dollar spending limit per billing cycle on customers' credit cards.