Thursday 20 February, 2020

Opposition to file motion in parliament over Petrotrin issue

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has slammed the Dr Keith Rowley-led regime for what she deemed “industrial vandalism” as it relates to the government’s decision to shut down the Petrotrin refinery.

She made the comment while addressing members of the media during a conference at the Passage to Asia Hall, Chaguanas on Tuesday.

She said the Opposition will file a motion in parliament to force the Government to be transparent on the matter.

“We intend to file a Motion in Parliament on the Petrotrin issue and hopefully shine a light on the secrecy surrounding their deals– let us see if the Government will be brave enough to set a date for the debate or whether they will run and prorogue Parliament.  But we will refile it – we will hold them to account.”

Speaking on the controversial issue regarding the shutdown, Persad-Bissessar blamed the PNM government for Petrotrin’s failure and called on them to take responsibility.

The swift collapse of Petrotrin between 2015, when the PNM took office - and 2018 is a direct result of the mishandling by this Government. Since taking office, there were several changes to the Board, it has been fluctuating management, is it that people were uncomfortable with the decisions being taken? They have taken politically appointed boards and fired the management team making poor qualified political appointees managers in the state enterprise."

She also sought to remind the public about the Malcolm Jones debt which she said is at the heart of the urgency of this crisis.

"The impact of the Malcolm Jones decision meant that there was a debt of approximately $12B at the end of the Manning PNM’s term. This was our burden to carry when we took office in 2010. They must take the blame for the state of Petrotrin - the decisions made by Malcolm Jones- Rowley and Imbert were part of the cabinet.”

She said Dr Rowley is possibly guilty of contempt of the Parliament, as issues relating to Petrotrin are currently before a Joint Select Committee.

She said he pronounced on, prejudiced and acted upon when the matter which has not been reported or laid in the Parliament

“We also note that the PNM Chair of that JSC, Finance Minister Colm Imbert has deliberately subverted the work of the committee by failing to convene meetings. Rowley – we have no confidence in you and we demand that you call elections now.”

Persad-Bissessar also raised concerns over the investigation into the fake oil scandal involving A&V Drilling. She questioned whether police completed the investigation into the matter and who would secure documents that are essential to the case.

She also asked whether Dr Rowley could provide answers to her questions as she pondered whether he was “crashing the company to save his “bestie” and himself from possible jail?”

Meanwhile, the Opposition MP called on the government to tell the nation the cost for decommissioning the refinery and the cost to restart it.

She said the government must also say whether their true intention is to get rid of the refinery and the workers and must say the fate of our CARICOM neighbours that will be left facing a shortfall as Petrotrin is their main supplier.

“What will be the price at the pump?  Because this will impact each and every person, and will lead to price increases across the board,” she questioned.


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