Saturday 14 December, 2019

Lee: Call a Commission of Enquiry into Petrotrin

If there was any single act which ever warranted a Commission of Enquiry in Trinidad and Tobago’s history, it is the Petrotrin debacle.

So said Chairman of the United National Congress (UNC) David Lee in response to the announcement of a Cabinet-appointed Commission of Enquiry, chaired by retired justice Sebastian Ventour, into the $500 million acquisition of land for the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension to Point Fortin.

Describing the appointment of the Commission as ironic and nothing more than a political witch hunt, he said Government should undertake the same action for Petrotrin, “one of the greatest acts of mismanagement which has been committed against our taxpayers”.

According to Lee a Commission of Enquiry into Petrotrin’s debts would “finally heal the wounds of our taxpayers who have all been burdened by the billions in debts which PNM appointed officials plagued the company, eventually leading to its demise.”

Below is the full statement from the UNC Chairman: 

It is rather ironic that Government is undertaking a Commission of Enquiry into the acquisition of land for the construction of the Highway extension project yet one of the greatest acts of mismanagement which has been committed against our taxpayers, the destruction of Petrotrin remains unsolved.

If this administration was really serious in holding those accountable for the misappropriation and blatant corrupt use of state funds they would have looked to finally confirm to the population of Trinidad and Tobago who were the individuals that were solely responsible for destroying our national patrimony.

If there was any single act which ever warranted a Commission of Enquiry in our nation’s history, it is the Petrotrin debacle, due to the massive trauma it has caused our population with thousands being thrown onto the breadline, fence line businesses and communities being destroyed as well as our energy security being totally diminished.

While the government grasps at straws in this current political witch hunt aimed at changing the narrative, our population is still seeking answers to the many inaccurate and questionable details which were put forward concerning Petrotrin.

These questions include, how could the Prime Minister say that the refinery was past its prime yet numerous entities placed bids for it? How could the government say that Petrotrin was making a loss yet made a profit in the last year of its operations? Why did this administration purposefully derail refinancing attempts which were aimed at revitalizing the company? What new activities are being done by these new companies that were not being done at Petrotrin before?  Why were all these issues relating to Petrotrin’s restructuring kept away from the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Energy?

A Commission of Enquiry into Petrotrin’s debts would finally heal the wounds of our taxpayers who have all been burdened by the billions in debts which PNM appointed officials plagued the company, eventually leading to its demise.

Finally our population would get the answers as to as to why the Malcolm Jones led board wasted over 2 billion dollars on a failed WGTL plant, why over 170 million TTD was spent to build a new Petrotrin Administrative building which was never completed, and why auditors discovered in 2017 that 80 million TTD was paid for oil that was never received by Petrotrin.

Further, our country would be fully enlightened as to why the proceedings to ascertain those accountable for these debts were derailed by this Government.

The Petrotrin restructuring process has been shrouded in a blanket of secrecy by this administration given that it was not based on the best interest of our country but rather on the self-gain of a few.

Our population deserves answers. If this government says that they want transparency across the board, they must investigate if criminal proceedings could be brought against those who destroyed Petrotrin also.

Undertake a Commission of Enquiry into Petrotrin now, not tomorrow.

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