Friday 27 November, 2020

PM: Kamla had no right to discuss Patriotic's proposal

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says that Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad Bissessar’s decision to reveal the details of Patriotic’s rejected proposal for the Petrotrin Refinery was an act of desperation. 

Speaking at a media conference today, Dr Rowley said that all the parties involved in the deal were bound by non-disclosure agreements, so it’s disappointing that she found it prudent to disclose the details, especially since the government already declined it. 

“If the Opposition Leader finds a document and, in the document, she can point to things that she thinks is unacceptable to her, well then maybe she saw what the government saw. But, to come and raise it as if it’s something she’s exposing and is detrimental and that she’s not disgraced herself on Monday night with it as if we would have never known... it’s simply a question of conduct,” he said. 

Dr Rowley added that her statements, particularly those involving Patriotic’s pending partnership with Trafigura Incorporated, could mean that the entire deal is now in trouble. 

“She launched a tirade against Trafigura. Suppose Trafigura takes the position that, ‘Look, you see Trinidad and Tobago, we have been accused of ‘xyz’, maybe we should give it a rest’. Where does that leave Patriotic?” he mused. 

Trafigura, according to Persad Bissessar, had agreed to invest half of the USD$1 billion that Patriotic required to restart the refinery.  

The Prime Minister also contended that Persad Bissessar’s issue with Trafigura is strange since he’s sure that Petrotrin had dealings with the company when her party was in office. This was then confirmed by Minister of Energy and Energy Industries, Franklin Khan. 

“Under the UNC administration from 20210-2015, Phoenix Park Gas Processors Limited, a subsidiary of the National Gas Company, did USD$177 million in business with Trafigura,” Khan revealed. 

Patriotic remains the government’s preferred bidder in the sale of the refinery, despite the government turning down their initial proposal. Dr Rowley said corporate contracts always involve negotiation phases and so, it wasn’t the opposition leader’s place to reveal the details.  

“People who Patriotic rely on to move forward on dealing and committing itself to the government, banker and fuel supplier, are now the target of political attack in Trinidad and Tobago. 

“A higher level of responsibility is to be expected from a former Prime Minister,” he declared. 

The Prime Minister said that not only is Persad Bissessar sullying that relationship, but her words could also impose on the opinion that Patriotic may have of their deal with the government. 

“While the negotiations with Patriotic are at this very sensitive stage, you have the Opposition Leader, who is a former Prime Minister, who is a Senior Counsel, pretending not to understand what I’m saying here and throwing out questions to the government implying that the government has some under the table, underhanded arrangements being made,” he said. 

For the last year, Patriotic Energies, which is owned by the Oilfields Workers Trade Union (OWTU), has been organising their affairs to acquire the defunct refinery. The government’s rejection isn’t the end of the road for Patriotic once their deals remain in place and they meet their new deadlines

“The government did not agree to certain things in that final position from Patriotic and they asked for more time and, of course, more time was granted. I presume that time will be used to refine their position, improve it or to stand on certain situations,” he said. 

Loop News ran the story on Tuesday after Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar revealed the contents of Patriotic’s proposal during her Monday night Virtual Report.  

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