Saturday 30 May, 2020

David Lee: Gov't intends to sell Paria Fuel Trading Company

Point-a-Pierre MP David Lee is calling on the Government to give full disclosure to the public on its plans for Petrotrin and its subsidiaries.

David Lee made the announcement via statement issued on Thursday as he accused the government of “flip-flopping” on the issue.

“If the Government had any respect for our population they would present every single detail relating to Paria and all other activities pertaining to Trinidad Petroleum Holdings to the Parliamentary Energy Sub-committee for full scrutiny on behalf of the population.”

Lee said the government, led by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, owes it to the population to reveal once and for all whether the Paria Fuel Trading Company will be sold.

He further defended the United National Congress (UNC) and its concerns related to the sale of the company.

According to the Point-a-Pierre MP, it was the government who made contradictory statements on the matter.

“It was Wilfred Espinet, the Chairman of Trinidad Petroleum Holdings (TPH) and the most prominent figure in this whole restructuring process who said Paria would be sold as it was not profitable. Shockingly, one day later this was contradicted by the Minister of Energy who said the divestment of Paria was not part of Government's mandate. However it was evident that both the Prime Minister and Espinet had more information on the real intentions for Paria than the Minister of Energy when the Prime Minister declared last Thursday, “based on what proposal is made to us, Paria is an asset which the Government will "leverage" to the best interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago".”

The Opposition MP said this statement was an indication that the assets will be closed if the opportunity arises. He said this demonstrates that the Minister of Energy remains in the dark on many energy-related issues.

He further said the government betrayed the population in August 2018 when it announced the closure of the Petrotrin refinery. Lee added that this betrayal then intensified as the government initially stated that only 2700 refinery workers were being laid off, only to be told one week later that all workers would be retrenched.

Meanwhile, Lee accused the government of purposefully presenting minimal facts, inaccurate positions and untruths on the sale of state assets.

He sought to remind the Prime Minister of his words in his address to the nation on September 3rd 2018 when he said, “the company will be better structured, with improved work processes and the capacity to respond quickly to changes in the international market".

The UNC MP said these words seemed like empty promises as six months later the company’s structure has not been improved but rather offered on a chopping board “for the best bidder or friends of the government.”

He ended by saying that he believes the Government’s goal is to ensure that Paria is sold off.

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