PM willing to sacrifice career to save T&T

Ac­knowl­edg­ing the in­sults and bash­ing lev­elled at him for the im­pend­ing clo­sure of the Petrotrin Pointe-a-Pierre re­fin­ery, Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley says he is pre­pared to sac­ri­fice his par­lia­men­tary ca­reer in or­der to save T&T from sink­ing deep­er in­to debt.

Speak­ing at a Peo­ple’s Na­tion­al Move­ment meet­ing at the Mara­bel­la Com­mu­ni­ty Fa­cil­i­ty on Tuesday night, Row­ley said that threats and in­sults were not go­ing to force Gov­ern­ment to change the de­ci­sion to end Petrotrin’s re­fin­ing and mar­ket­ing op­er­a­tions. How­ev­er, he said if the Oil­fields Work­ers’ Trade Union (OW­TU) or any­one has a bet­ter idea to save the com­pa­ny, Gov­ern­ment was open to dis­cus­sions.

Tuesday night’s meet­ing, in the heart of a com­mu­ni­ty which will be deeply af­fect­ed by the move, was meant to ex­plain Gov­ern­ment’s rea­son­ing for the re­fin­ery clo­sure. Row­ley told those cramped in­to the small au­di­to­ri­um that Petrotrin could have been pre­vi­ous­ly fixed, but past politi­cians failed to take ac­tion be­cause they were afraid of los­ing their par­lia­men­tary po­si­tions.

“I am pre­pared to sac­ri­fice my par­lia­men­tary and my political future doing what is right for the chil­dren of Trinidad and To­ba­go,” Row­ley told the gath­er­ing.

“And as for those who are call­ing for elec­tions, elec­tions will come and you the caller, you on­ly have one vote. Every­body else has a vote in this coun­try and at that time you (cit­i­zens) will de­ter­mine whether you elect­ed a gov­ern­ment that has the strength of char­ac­ter and the moral for­ti­tude to do what has to be done to give Trinidad and To­ba­go a bet­ter chance.”

The PM said if noth­ing is done at the state-owned oil com­pa­ny, the coun­try’s cred­it rat­ing will be down­grad­ed again by in­ter­na­tion­al rat­ing agen­cies, mean­ing the coun­try will face high-in­ter­est rates when bor­row­ing in the fu­ture. In cer­tain cas­es, some banks will not lend to T&T, he said. Gov­ern­ment, the PM said, was do­ing what it had to do in or­der to save the coun­try and on­ly asks T&T to stand with the “sen­si­ble de­ci­sion” they have made. He said all that is be­ing done is con­vert­ing a mon­ey-los­ing com­pa­ny in­to a prof­itable busi­ness.

Cog­nisant of the so­cial im­pact the re­fin­ery shut­down will bring, Row­ley as­sured that no work­er would end up in the “garbage bin,” as they will be sent home with at­trac­tive sep­a­ra­tion pack­ages. He said it is al­so Gov­ern­ment’s in­ten­tion to make Petrotrin land avail­able to them through the Pub­lic Sec­tor Hous­ing Pro­gramme. Tax­pay­ers will al­so pay more so that a spe­cial so­cial sys­tem can be in­tro­duced to ad­dress is­sues with the ter­mi­nat­ed work­ers’ chil­dren. He said those who were mak­ing long shouts of dis­ap­proval were ei­ther labour rep­re­sen­ta­tives, politi­cians or both.

“Every sin­gle one of the voic­es out front op­pos­ing this very sen­si­ble de­ci­sion has a con­nec­tion to a po­lit­i­cal par­ty. The OW­TU has a po­lit­i­cal par­ty, MSJ. Wat­son Duke is a politi­cian in To­ba­go, he is the mi­nor­i­ty leader. Car­olyn Seep­er­sad-Bachan, she is work­ing in a tomb some­where … She ap­peared like an aber­ra­tion. Then, of course, the Op­po­si­tion leader is a politi­cian,” he said.

“These are the four quar­ters from which this un­rea­son­able op­po­si­tion is com­ing. You will nev­er know when they’re talk­ing like a union or when they’re talk­ing like politi­cians. The PNM is the on­ly po­lit­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion that is not con­vict­ed and rep­re­sents all the in­ter­ests of all the peo­ple of Trinidad and To­ba­go.”

Break­ing down the de­ci­sion, he likened the re­fin­ery to an old car which con­stant­ly breaks down. He said the most that can be done is to sell it or leave it to rot. Con­trary to what has been sug­gest­ed, he said he does not know any­one in this coun­try who is in­ter­est­ed in the re­fin­ery, but said if there is one he would have to look care­ful­ly at them be­cause the re­fin­ery isn’t an easy as­set to own. Now that it is be­ing tak­en of­fline, he said Gov­ern­ment now has to look at what op­tions are avail­able to have the as­set work in the favour of cit­i­zens.

“All this stu­pid­ness that the Gov­ern­ment has their friends to give it to and the race talk about one per cent. Every time you hear that one per cent sto­ry it runs against our na­tion­al an­them where every creed and race is sup­posed to find an equal place. It’s race talk.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.