The closure of the Petrotrin refinery …”BACK IN TIMES”

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THE EDITORIn two days Trinidad and Tobago will celebrate 56 years of Independence and self-governance, and yet somehow our current government is behaving more colonial than the British.

At a time when the UK Prime Minister and government choose to resign after losing a referendum on legislation that wasn’t necessarily reflective of their administration, the PNM can make wholesale decisions that will not only have negative connotations in the present, but will surely impact future generations, without the least bit of public consultation or consideration.

While the government will no doubt point to the last minute ultimatum delivered to the Trade Unions as an attempt at consultation, with little room for negotiation and no bargaining power, the OWTU were neutered before they ever entered the room. But despite the direct impact that the decision to close the refinery will have on the hundreds of workers and their families, little consideration has been given to the thousands more who are affiliated through partnerships or downstream industries.

In one way or another, this decision will have an effect on the vast majority of our populace and as such this decision should be brought before a higher authority than the government before its fate is sealed.

It is well known that the majority of 1,700 persons that will be placed on the breadline following the closure of the Petrotrin Oil Refinery currently reside in consistencies whose representatives now sit in Opposition. It would make sense that persons working at the plant would want to live closer to their place of employ, and a quick glance of the electoral map would show that the constituencies surrounding the refinery, including Pointe-a-Pierre, are colored yellow.

Whether this was part of the considerations of the government prior to making their decision will never be known, but one can make the argument that the PNM may not sustain the political ramifications one would usually expect from this type of decision based on this fact.

I am therefore calling upon the government to hold a public referendum and allow the electorate to vote on the way forward for Petrotrin and its refinery. This would allow more public discourse on the matter and can even present more options to replace the binary narrative that is currently taking place. But most importantly, it would ensure that the decision arrived at will be chosen by the majority rather than a handful of persons in the government.

It would be a fitting birthday present at 56 years old, as it would signal that the government treats its citizens as mature adults who deserve a say in making such important decisions in our nation.

Dr. Fuad Khan

Member of Parliament for the Barataria/San Juan
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