As the Government prepares to sell the Petrotrin refinery to the Oilfield Workers Trade Union, the UNC’s former deputy political leader, Dr Roodal Moonilal, is calling for a stop to the sale.
Speaking at a UNC cottage meeting in Debe on Friday 24 July, Moonilal said:
“The Prime Minister ought not to be consummating any deals and selling out the people’s assets and property.”
“This is improper! This is unethical. It goes against the grain of transparency and good governance. At a time when the Parliament has been dissolved, there is no opportunity for anyone to ask Prime Minister’s questions, urgent questions, file motions and generate debate in the public interest,” he said.
He added that selling away a 100-year-old asset cannot be part of a political campaign.
“I call on Rowley to take his paws off the refinery and allow the incoming government of Kamla Persad-Bissessar to properly evaluate the mess that they have placed the energy sector into, and return the refinery to the people. If you want to sell anything, sell off your goat pen in Tobago! You have a deed for that, not Petrotrin refinery,” he said as the audience applauded.
He noted that successful State petroleum companies around the world are fully integrated and are able to remain viable in a volatile and changing pricing market.
“Such companies comprise both the Exploration & Production (EP) and Refining & Marketing (RM) businesses. So, in the falling oil price market, the Refinery and Marketing (RM) is more cash-generating and in a rising price market, the Exploration and Production (EP) take the financial lead. Operating together they minimise economic risk by EP proving crude feedstock for RM once there is experienced leadership and skilled management in place,” he said.
He noted that “with cheap post-COVID Crude, the country should have been enjoying a Refinery operating at reduced throughput to supply fuels—gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel—to our local and regional markets thereby earning and not consuming foreign exchange as is currently the case”.
“Selling our now reduced crude production externally produces insufficient forex to buy fuels for the country. In 2015 and despite the low prices since 2014, PETROTRIN EP and RM together generated an operating surplus of TT $4.31 Billion and Government’s take was TT $3.11 billion,” he revealed.
He added, “Inexplicably running down (no major maintenance) and then shutting the refinery since 2015 has jeopardised the integrity of the Refinery Plant and will result in a distressed sale and a giveaway.”
Moonilal said he has been a main target of attacks from the PNM because he has made the PNM his main target.
“Paid over $200 million to a British team who ‘conned’ them into paying millions of pounds, they have nothing to show for this wanton waste of money. Not one single human being was ever in questioned, far less arrested, far less charged, far less convicted in 5 years,” Moonilal said.
He added: “The very contractors they vilify are paving all the roads tonight!! They got all the work. The UK team want to continue to cream off taxpayers’ money that should be given to the police. TTPS has no money even from what they ask for to reimburse police for medical and dental expenses.”
“All this is happening while those in London, retired police officer complement their pension with Trini dollars changed in pounds. They want more. Who could blame them?” Moonilal charged.
He called on Dr Rowley “to cease and desist from this secret siphoning off of taxpayers’ dollars.”
“And it is secret. On May 25, 2018, we asked the question in Parliament. The AG said no information can be forthcoming,” Moonilal said.
The Oropouche East MP filed a lawsuit earlier this month for defamation against Dr Rowley, the Express newspaper and its editor-in-chief over a story published on January 6 which reported on an exchange of messages between the Prime Minister and Kirk Waithe, the leader of the NOW party.
Moonilal also said he had taken note of another story published over alleged dealings at the Estate Management Business Development Company (EMBDC).