T&T Opposition Leader wants procurement law before refinery sale

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Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar holds up a coin presented by Canada's Governor-General David Johnston (R), in the capital Port of Spain May 1, 2012. Johnston and his wife Sharon are on a state visit to Trinidad and Tobago. REUTERS/Andrea De Silva (TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO - Tags: POLITICS)

Trinidad and Tobago’s Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, is calling on the government, led by Dr.  Keith Rowley, to implement and fully proclaim the procurement legislation her government passed in 2015. 

Persad-Bissessar said corrupt deals will take place with the sale of Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and terminal assets if this fails to happen.

Speaking at the United National Congress’ (UNC) virtual Monday night forum, Persad-Bissessar said the government is continuing to fool the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union and workers of T&T on the refinery deal.

She noted that the government had no legal authority to sell the refinery.

“I want to ask the government and the prime minister, is it true that you already have a buyer lined up for the refinery and within three months, with the finances to purchase as well as restart finances?” Persad-Bissessar asked.

She added, “You can’t sell it without the money for financing and restarting. If you do, please tell the country how you going to pay $1.173 billion for loans.”

Saying the government had misled Patriotic Energies and Technologies Company Ltd, Persad-Bissessar also questioned why the government wanted to strike a deal with Swiss-based commodity trader, Trafigura.

Saying this company has a troubled past, Persad-Bissessar added, “Why would our government be interested in doing business with this company?”

She also showed a copy of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between Patriotic and Trafigura to supply T&T’s fuel demands.

“Today, I am making a call to the government; do not sell any state assets without fully implementing and proclaiming the procurement legislation. You want to sell out all these assets, sell out the NP gas stations, sell the port and you have no procurement legislation in place for disposal of property?” she said.

Noting that many private sector groups have called for the procurement legislation, Persad-Bissessar added, “Why is the government dragging its feet on full procurement legislation? Why? You know why? Because there could be deals that will go down if you don’t have legislation in place and sales can be done by Cabinet directive.”

She also quoted from a document from Patriotic dated October 29, saying there is now proof that plans were afoot to secure Petrotrin’s terminal assets as well as the refinery.

She also said Patriotic had reduced its offer from an upfront payment of US$700 million to $US500 million and they were also calling on the government to foot their legal bill of US$26 million.