“We are coming for you, Keith Rowley”.
That was the promise of Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar following a caucus meeting of the Opposition in Chaguanas on Tuesday.
She said a notice of no-confidence motion in the Prime Minister will be filed at the earliest opportunity in the Parliament.
She told the media that the Rowley-led PNM administration was engaging in industrial genocide on Petrotrin.
The former PM added, “Without doubt, this action by the Rowley Government threatens to throw our beleaguered nation , battered by his punitive, destructive, clueless, incompetent and spiteful regime further into the throes of social, economic and general unrest and destabilization. The people have lost confidence in Keith Rowley and his Government.”
The following is Persad-Bissessar’s speaking notes at the media conference:
“Our party has deliberated on this very critical issue – the matter of Petrotrin and what we’ve seen by this Rowley Government can only be described as industrial genocide.
“With every day that passes, it is now clear that Keith Rowley and the PNM do not care about the people of Trinidad and Tobago, or the future of our country.
Rowley has shown himself to be the most callous, uncaring and heartless Prime Minister in our country’s history. This came into sharp focus with the Rowley Government’s handling of the Petrotrin matter.
“This Government has brutalized the people of this country for long enough.
We have endured rising taxes, rampaging crime, ever increasing cost of living, massive job losses, and a crumbling economy.
“On Saturday, Keith Rowley will start his fourth year as Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and it is unbelievable that now he is trying convince the population that the closure Petrotrin is a good thing for the country, that he is our saviour?
“This will be the single most pivotal issue facing the country today and how it has been handled shows cowardice and it shows callousness on the part of our country’s current leadership and in particular, this Prime Minister.
This decision essentially threatens the economic survival of this country, and by extension, its social stability in a manner never before seen.
“This has the potential to, within weeks, shut down all downstream industries, small businesses and essentially, destroy the livelihood of many communities and people in the entire Southland of Trinidad, and by extension, the rest of the country.
The deliberate pauperisation of the hardworking people of this country has been the defining policy of this Rowley regime.
Industrial vandalism by the Rowley administration
“What we have seen happen at Petrotrin under this Rowley administration can only be termed as Industrial Vandalism.
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.
We must recall that the Malcolm Jones debt is at the heart of the urgency of this crisis, and it is the detail that Rowley has glossed over in all his public utterances on this matter.
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.
Has the police completed this investigation?
Who would secure documents that are essential to this case? Does the Prime Minister have answer questions in this matter?
Crashing the company to save his “bestie” and himself from possible jail?
I would say it again, they were responsible for throwing out the Malcolm Jones matter, they have a proven history of acting contrary to the national interest to save their friends?
What is extremely callous is that once the AV drilling story broke, Rowley told us himself that he called his friend, when the Petrotrin story broke, Rowley waited for days to talk to a worried nation.
What did we do when we were in Office?
1) Ended the fiasco that was Bechtel’s contracts with Petrotrin on the Gasoline Optimization Programme (GOP).
2) Finished the GOP in 2013 and contained cost over runs.
3) From 2010 to 2015 oil production at Petrotrin was stabilized and was increasing.
4) Secured a major loan for $US 500 million without a gurantee from Government – which was cancelled by this Government for no reason.
5) Hired highly competent managers in Ron Huff and John Barden.
6) Conducted several major maintenance projects in the refinery that were overdue for many years.
7) Paid over $20 billion in taxes and royalties to the Government from 2011 to 2015.
8) Conducted historic 3D seismic campaigns on land (2011) and in Trinmar (2014).
The Petrotrin refinery turned a profit in 2015.
Our Government awarded a contract for a mobile off -shore production unit that would have increased oil production a Trinmar by 5000 barrels of oil per day, 40 million us was already spent and the contract was 95% complete, that contract was canceled by the Rowley administration.
They undermined land exploration at Petrotrin.
They fired energy experts, removing expertise from petrotrin and hired themselves, they hired architects of destruction.
In 2016 the Petrotrin Board stopped all drilling in Trinmar.
$10b was invested in a period spanning the Manning administration and the People’s Partnership so the question must be asked – after such a significant investment, why sell this valuable asset now?
We have to believe they have singled out a buyer.
We call on them – they must give us the guarantee that they will not sell the refinery to the 1%.
What is at stake?
Does the Government care about your future? The answer is a resounding no.
The decisions taken on Petrotrin were done with no plan for the marketing of our crude oil, no contingency plan to import refined products for use locally – no plan.
They haven’t even worked out the severance packages for employees.
The workers cannot be the scapegoat for their poor decision making. This is a result of poor leadership.
Who will be next? Already we are hearing them talking about WASA, T&TEC and TSTT.
Every time the PNM comes into power they destroyed something.
This is the same party – the PNM – that destroyed Caroni, they destroyed BWIA, they are a Government of destruction.
The Opposition will not stay silent on this issue.
What is the cost for decommissioning this refinery? What will be the cost to restart it?
Is it the government’s true intention to get rid of the refinery and the workers?
They must also answer – what is the fate of our CARICOM neighbours? Petrotrin is a significant supplier of fuel to the region, which is now defenseless.
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.
What would the UNC do?
Protect the refinery, preserve jobs.
Restructure debt and company- since our Government was to last to have the confidence of the investors and the bond holding community.
Continue to work with stakeholders.
Establish a clear coherent policy on the energy sector complemented with a Comprehensive diversification strategy
Contempt of Parliament.
Rowley is also possibly guilty of contempt of the Parliament, on a matter that is before a Joint Select Committee on Petrotrin. He pronounced on, prejudiced and acted upon when the matter 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.
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.
Rowley – we have no confidence in you and we demand that you call elections now.
Without doubt, this action by the Rowley Government threatens to throw our beleaguered nation – battered by his punitive, destructive, clueless, incompetent and spiteful regime—further into the throes of social, economic and general unrest and destabilisation.
Rowley is dealing with this as a company crisis but Petrotrin is a metaphor for three years of non-performance and crisis management without thought, care for workers or the future of the country.
Why the secrecy?
What is this really going to cost?
Who seeks to benefit?
Why can’t this Government ever come clean on selling off our patrimony?
I have one message to the Prime Minister today – the people of Trinidad and Tobago have lost confidence in you.
You continue to show that you don’t care about the future of our country and you continue to show that you have no plan or competence.
DAVID LEE, KAMLA PERSAD-BISSESSAR, AND JEARLEAN JOHN