Kamla Persad-Bissessar calls for pragmatic approach to Petrotrin’s restructuring

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Kamla Persad-Bissessar - Trinidad and Tobago’s Leader of the Opposition and former Prime Minister

Trinidad and Tobago’s Leader of the Opposition Kamla Persad-Bissessar has urged the country’s Government to take a cautious and pragmatic approach to the restructuring of state-owned petroleum company Petrotrin.

On Monday, it was announced that Petrotrin would be shutting down its refinery operations at Pointe-a-Pierre. The former Prime Minister called for Petrotrin’s restructuring to be handled with caution as the way it is handled will have both immediate and long-term effects.

Persad-Bissessar has accused the Keith Rowley administration of engaging in “gimmicks” and cited Rowley’s visit last weekend to Caracas, Venezuela to sign a gas deal for the Dragon field as one such gimmick. Since the signing of the agreement in Caracas, there have been calls for the disclosure of the terms of the deal and speculation is rife that the Government is using perceived positives from the Dragon pact in Caracas to justify the closing down of Petrotrin’s refinery operations.

Persad-Bissessar said the move by the Government to embark on restructuring Petrotrin without a detailed plan will negatively impact the country’s economic viability.

“The country has already been asked to wait until Sunday for a statement from the Prime Minister on an issue that has gripped the public’s attention for weeks and which has now been compounded by the statement from the board of directors, which blatantly ignored the workers, stating that it was cheaper to import fuel than to continue production,” she is quoted as saying.

Just last weekend, prior to the announcement of Petrotrin’s closure, former Energy Minister Franklin Khan voiced a dire warning saying that Petrotrin could bankrupt Trinidad and Tobago if not handled properly. He referred to Petrotrin as “the most fundamental issue the country faces in terms of our economic fortunes or lack thereof.”