Haynes: Return to market for refinery partner shows contempt – Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: Anita Haynes - Sureash Cholai
File photo: Anita Haynes – Sureash Cholai

TABAQUITE MP Anita Haynes sees Cabinet’s decision to return to the open market to find a buyer for the Guaracara refinery as an act of contempt.

“Our country’s bread and butter is the energy sector, and the government’s decision to return to the open market, rather than working to ensure that one of our greatest assets remains in the hands of citizens of this nation, is their latest act of contempt towards the people of TT,” Haynes said.

At a news conference on Tuesday, both ministers of Finance and Energy Colm Imbert and Franklin Khan disclosed that Cabinet had decided on Monday to reject Patriotic’s bid for a second time and look for another operator. Patriotic has an option to put in another bid.

Ancel Roget, one of the company’s directors and president general of its parent organisation the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU), said this will be discussed with their lawyers and the general council.

Commenting on the rejection of the offer by Patriotic Energies and Technologies Ltd, Haynes said, “The Government continues to play its game of surprise, trifling with our billion-dollar assets. The Finance Minister has flip-flopped on this issue at almost every turn, constantly introducing new policy caveats which have negatively affected the sale of the refinery.

“The Minister of Energy is truly clueless and separated from the very stakeholders whose best interest he is mandated to secure. While he described the refinery as a cancer, the real cancer is the unemployment and consequent financial ruin that hundreds of households have been facing as a result of the government’s blindsiding decision in 2018.”
She slammed what she called the government’s apparent indifference to the men and women stuck in limbo.

“There’s no sugar-coating the fact that the government has abandoned citizens on the argument of dollar and cents.
“Still, even in that argument, there are flaws. We recognise the costs involved in selling the refinery as well as rehabilitating the refinery towards restarting operations.

“But what of the opportunity cost? What of the losses accrued every day that the refinery remains dormant?

“More than two years later and the government continues to add insult to injury with respect to the Petrotrin shut down. It’s clearer now more than ever before that there was no plan informing the sudden and callous closure of the refinery.

“Sadly, this marks yet another chapter in the erosion of trust in this PNM government.”