“A baseless public relations stunt and waste of taxpayers’ money” is the best way one can describe the media briefing held by Petrotrin Chairman Wilfred Espinet together with the other board members of the state oil company. After listening to this morning’s press conference our citizens must ask themselves, “What was the purpose of it?”.
This was clearly an attempt by the Government and Espinet to re-establish their dying narrative of anti-Petrotrin rhetoric in our national conversation given that the majority of citizens have been speaking out against this decision and highlighting the incompetence, malice and vindictive nature of this administration to destroy our national patrimony.
It is beyond irresponsible that it has been over four weeks since the announcement of the refinery’s closure and neither Government nor the board can give the citizens answers to the critical questions we have been raising. One would have thought that this morning’s press conference would have addressed pertinent issues such as this nation’s energy and fuel security, protection policies for fence-line businesses and industries being affected as well as the disclosure of the timeline and value of compensation packages for the thousands of workers affected.
What our nation witnessed was the shameful admission by those who said this was a properly planned decision say that the board is yet to confirm the source of funds which would be paid to workers, the board has not yet confirmed where this nation’s supply of fuel would be purchased from while also admitting that they have not fully explored nor cemented the market where our crude would be sold. How could such important details not be confirmed as yet? Our nation must further question if affected workers would be paid before the Christmas season or thrown into further quandary given that they would lose their monthly income?
The angry outburst by Chairman Espinet that he wouldn’t be entertaining anymore questions on employees as well as his confirmation that he couldn’t state how many workers worked at Petrotrin is not only an insult to the workers who have stood faithful to the company for many years but further indication that this board and by extension government has not properly valuated, planned or have a clear direction on the magnitude of this situation.
This entire Petrotrin crisis smells of dishonesty, insincerity, incompetence and ill will towards the citizenry by the Government as up to this day, as seen this morning they are unable to present the nation with the name or entity which has provided the professional advice to aid them in making this decision.
What has been appalling so far is Government’s strategic dishonesty as the Prime Minister initially stated in his address to the nation that only 1700 refinery workers would be sent home but when I questioned the Minister of Energy at yesterday’s sitting of the House of Representatives he said a total of 3500 permanent workers and 1200 non-permanent workers would be affected. That’s a total of 4700 workers, so the question must be asked as to who is telling the truth?
Even the commitment by the Prime Minister that displaced workers would be rehired at the “new Petrotrin” has been changed as the Chairman is now stating that applications would be accepted from throughout and the best workers selected.