Good evening UNC family! When I see so many of you here tonight I know that change is going to come.
We completed our internal elections, and I wish to congratulate our new Chair of the Women’s Arm Ms. Kenya Charles.
I am happy to announce that we will be starting screening for local government elections this week.
They are now in their last lap – the last year of this Rowley-led PNM administration, and their legacy will be that they made the lives of citizens harder, criminals are running rampant, tens of thousands are without work, our health sector is in critical condition, and the education sector is in shambles, roads, bridges, drains destroyed.
Today, they go around cutting ribbons to announce projects. They have spent $223 billion dollars in four years, and they cannot cut ONE RIBBON TO OPEN OR COMMISSION ANYTHING…WHERE THE MONEY GONE?
But, expect that in the coming months they’ll use every trick in the book to try to show that they are working – but they don’t need a Sobers, they need Houdini to convince Trinidad and Tobago, they are worth anything.
They will come with the Budget and promise all kinds of things, but do not be fooled!
The people of this country have had enough of Rowley, his Sobers (Stuart), Imbert, Rohan, ALL ALL ALL of them and when elections do come around, we will vote them out.
Trinidad and Tobago is in desperate need of rescue from this disaster of the Keith Rowley Government.
The United National Congress is ready – as you already know, we have a vision and plan to get T&T working again. Over the past few months I have been sharing our plans with you and tonight I will continue to share our vision to save our country.
I heard that the Prime Minister said he’s holding the date for the Local Government election “close to his chest”. Tonight, I want to say to him – take the weight off your chest. You and your party were never prepared for government. Let go – call the election now and give the people of Trinidad and Tobago a fighting chance!
Govt Hiding the Facts on TT’s Energy Sector
My friends, tonight, here in Fyzabad, in this Fyzabad Secondary School, I want to speak about the criminal act of Keith Rowley and his Hatchet-Man; Wilfred Espinet, in the closure of Petrotrin.
But first, let me remind you that Rowley told the country that Petrotrin would not be shut down. that was a lie.
The Hatchet-Man told him that the problems of Petrotrin cannot be solved and closure was the only course of action.
How did Rowley respond? Rowley asked no questions, Rowley did not fight to save your jobs, Rowley did not fight to save your communities, Rowley did not fight to save your businesses.
In fact while they were in discussions with the union about improving Petrotrin, like a thief in the night, he stabbed the workers in the back and shut the company down.
Today I am in Fyzabad and I, Kamla Persad- Bissessar as the Leader of the UNC promise you that I will fight to save your jobs, will fight to save your communities, will fight to save your businesses.
You know me. I mean what I say, and I do it! I have demonstrated that I can do it. I have created thousands of jobs before, and with your support, I will put Trinidad and Tobago back to work again. How many of you remember when they tried to silence Tubal Uriah Buzz Butler as he addressed striking oil workers? Do you remember that the people protected Butler and put the Oppressors in full flight?
Today I stand not far from Charlie King Junction and I ask you my people, when I fight for you, when I fight Rowley, when I fight the Rowley’s PNM, when I fight the Oppressors of the people, will I have your support?
Like Uriah Buzz Butler; I Kamla Persad-Bissessar will not be muzzled; the UNC will not be muzzled. We will fight for what is right for the People of Trinidad and Tobago!
Closure affecting families and communities
When Rowley shut down Petrotrin; his Hatchet-Man; Wilfred Espinet, sent home thousands of people from jobs. Tens of thousands of families were adversely affected. You see, it is not only Petrotrin that sent home workers. The contractors and service companies that supported Petrotrin have also sent home workers.
People have lost their homes. Some have returned vehicles that they can’t pay for. Others are in a state of depression. Many are planning to leave T&T.
There were many service workers and employees of contractors who received no backpay and settlement from government. hundreds if not thousands are facing poverty.
There is now an economic depression in South Trinidad from Mayaro to Point Fortin. Entire towns, villages and communities have turned into Ghost Towns.
Marabella, Santa Flora, Siparia, Los Iros, La Brea, Cedros, Couva, Chaguanas, Penal, Gasparillo, Point Fortin, La Brea, Moruga, Princes Town, Mayaro…
Thousands and thousands of people, fired by this shameless heartless government with no hope of getting employment anywhere. They promised jobs in the La Brea port…where are the jobs? They lied. They promised jobs from their secret Dragon Deal with Venezuela. They lied. Where has this government created jobs in south? Nowhere! They lied.
New Companies set up
When they shutdown Petrotrin they opened in its place four companies:
1) Trinidad Petroleum Holdings (TPH)
2) Heritage Petroleum
3) Paria Fuel Trading
4) Guaracara Refining
We were told that these Companies were like the silver bullets for all the pains of Petrotrin.
We were told not to worry – things were nice and going well with these companies.
I am not fooled by Franklin Khan’s grin. Like Faris, he is fixing his business too. Rentals making millions! ent?
I am not too sure about things being all well and good at all. You know not to trust the PNM. You know that they all lie.
I want to know why the Minister of Energy had the audacity to report the revenue of Heritage Petroleum but said nothing about the profits?
We have not seen audited financials for Petrotrin for 2018 but we are being given accounting information for Heritage Petroleum for 2019. They only want to show us information that make them look good. PNM Propaganda at work!
My friends, our information is that things are not as nice as Minister Khan, Dr. Rowley and “Gary Sobers” (aka “The Minister of Everything”) would have us believe.
Remember anything they touch turns to dust, they don’t have the Midas Touch. In fact, they have the REVERSED version of the Midas Touch – they have the Rowley’s Touch – everything Rowley touches ends in utter failure like the Shameful Sea Bridge, the Dead Dragon Deal and the BUSS UP Sandals to name a few. Rowley is not just sour and bad mind you know. That man is blight!
Petrotrin and Fuel
Let’s now turn our attention to Petrotrin and their role in supplying Trinidad and Tobago with fuel.
As you will know all our super, premium, diesel, and other fuels were all made in the refinery at Pointe-a-Pierre.
Now that the refinery is closed, a new company was established for the sole purpose of buying these fuels from the international market and selling to NP and Unipet. That company is called Paria Fuel Trading Limited. Its Chairman is one Wilfred Espinet (The Hatchet-Man) and its CEO is one Lisa Ali (formerly of BP).
PARIA IS IN SERIOUS TROUBLE
Our information is that this company (Paria) is already in serious financial trouble and this is a significant threat to the supply of fuel to the nation. Can you believe that in less than eight months this company is in major trouble? Rowley’s Touch again?
I quote from a letter that was dropped in my mailbox. This letter is from one Wilfred Espinet to one Franklyn Khan. The letter is dated June 7th, 2019.
It states, re: Update on Petrotrin Transformation Process.
It lists “key immediate risks” as “An ongoing shortfall of $US 20 million per month to purchase refined fuels to ensure supply to the country – this is a structural problem that is going to result in a shortage of fuels unless corrected.”
That is a very serious issue. The supply of fuel to the country is under threat and I didn’t say so.
The Chairman of Trinidad Petroleum Holdings, Wilfred Espinet, said so. What is that $US 20 million shortfall about?
Does that mean:
(1) Are they are losing $US 20 million per month?
Do you know what is US$20M converted to TT? At today’s rate of exchange it is $140 m TT. That is not losing money. It is hemorrhaging money!
(2) They have to find $US 20 million of TT$ per month to buy fuel?
(3) Do we have to increase the price of fuel at the pumps for the everyday citizen?
Whatever it means, it is clear as day that Paria Fuel Trading, the company with the sole responsibility for importing this country’s fuels (super, diesel, premium, kerosene and jet fuel) is in big trouble.
This is what you get when you shut down Petrotrin and you had no plan post Petrotrin. This decision to close down Petrotrin will be the biggest economic debacle in the history of this country. They a have made a complete mess of what was Petrotrin.
The letter goes on to say that another immediate risk is:
The failure to implement ex-terminal pricing for imported fuel; despite the Company and the MEEI having implemented a formula since November 2018
This is why they recently rushed a piece of legislation to implement this formula. That was the amendment to the Petroleum Act and the Petroleum Production Subsidy and Levy Act.
However, the Chairman is saying to the Minister of Energy that this should have been done since last year when Petrotrin was shutdown and we started to import fuel.
That must be the height of incompetence on the part of the Smiling Franklin Khan as Minister of Energy.
Mr. Espinet goes on to add another immediate risk. He cites:
The inability to secure two letters from the Ministry of Energy and the BIR to close the 2018 year-end audit and finalise long term financing. Requests for both these letters have been pursued daily for several months.
What does that mean? It means Petrotrin cannot publish financials for 2018 because of outstanding issues regarding royalty payments to the Ministry of Energy and outstanding issues regarding taxes owed to the BIR. This speaks to massive incompetence at the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Finance and at Trinidad Petroleum Holdings where all the Petrotrin accountants and finance people were fired and they can’t find documents.
Petrotrin Bonds and Loans
Next month Petrotrin has to pay $US 850 million dollars (more than $5 B TT) to bondholders it owes for a bond taken out in 2009 by the then Malcolm Jones PNM appointed board of Petrotrin.
They cannot make that payment. So, they went to the bondholders and asked them to refinance the bond to 2026 at 9.75% interest. That is an excellent interest rate that no one remotely gets for their money in T&T.
Although the offer was so good, almost half of the bondholders refused the offer. The result is they have HAD to borrow the remainder of the money to make the $US 850 million payment. This means they have to borrow that remainder from a syndicate of banks.
The fact that half of the bond holders rejected such a good offer of 9.75% speaks volumes about their lack of confidence in Trinidad Petroleum Holdings the successor to Petrotrin.
The bond holders were so dis-interested that the deadline for them to signal their intention to refinance was extended on three occasions.
The question we ask is what will be the overall cost of refinancing this debt?
It seems the Petrotrin candle is costing more than the funeral.
And the people who have to bear that burden are you, your children and grandchildren.
When you consider the loss of production, the loss of revenue, the loss of sales of refined products and the cost to settle with workers – the closure of Petrotrin is a debacle because it was not properly thought out but done with spite, malice and contempt.
The Houston Hustle
These are very serious issues. We are playing games with the country’s energy security which can lead to a massive crisis – a crisis we warned about last year. So, after four years of PNM they have killed Petrotrin and now they are killing the NGC.
So we will get the financials for NGC for 2018 and the financials for the first half of 2019 and you will see that like Petrotrin, NGC is also in trouble thanks to political interference in natural gas price negotiations that went back to the infamous “Houston Hustle” of March 2017.
This was when the Prime Minister and Stuart Young arrogated onto themselves the responsibility of negotiating natural gas prices for the NGC with EOG Resources in a hotel room in Houston.
The result of that intrusion is on the one hand the NGC having to pay a lot more for natural gas while on the other hand having to sell it to its customers in some cases at a loss.
We will hear more of this when we see the NGC’s accounts for the first half of 2019. Maybe that is one reason why Gerry Brooks hustled and resigned from the NGC – because he saw the writing on the wall.
Franklin Khan’s Freudian Slip
Now, just a couple weeks ago the PNM went down to Point Fortin to speak to their supporters, calling their rally “Let’s Talk Energy.”
This is a national issue but Rowley chose to speak only to his party faithful.
Maybe it was because Energy Minister Franklin Khan felt so comfortable amongst the PNM supporters that he forgot himself and let slip that the refinery will “most likely” be leased to a foreign operator.
He said, “Guaracara Refining and terminalling (storage) facilities is very likely to be leased to a private operator. Very likely, an international operator because there is no indigenous capacity to run a refinery of that size and complexity. We will be focusing on Heritage”.
So hard luck OWTU. Your bid – in the wastebasket. “No indigenous capacity.” That’s how highly your Government thinks of you.
The OWTU of course didn’t take this statement lightly and called on the Minister to explain what he meant.
Frankie’s response was to put out a strongly worded release, accusing the union of trying to create an issue
But, I suppose after he realized just what it was he said, (or after his boss bouffed him) he tried to backtrack.
Is it a case of the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing?
This Government has shown it cannot be trusted.
We call on them to halt the sale of the refinery immediately until after the next General Election.
And my friends, the UNC has a plan – we will reconsolidate Petrotrin into a fully integrated oil company, starting back up the Pointe-a-Pierre oil refinery on the most efficient and economical basis.
By restarting Petrotrin, we will not have to import fuel and will avoid energy price risk, save foreign exchange, provide meaningful jobs and ensure the company continues to contribute to the Treasury.
This PNM may not believe in you, the Rowley Government may not believe in the people of Trinidad and Tobago, but I do. I will put you back to work.
PNM Takes Care of Their Own – FARIS CLAN
This PNM Government has demonstrated this throughout their term – they are about friends, family, financiers.
You will recall some months ago I revealed the details about the multi-million dollar rental contract for the family of none other than the Attorney General.
There are two properties, One Alexandra Place and #3 Alexandra.
Now it has been reported that there is no formal lease between the State and the family of Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi for the multi-million-dollar rentals at Alexandra Place.
I have here a copy of a draft lease undated but referred to in same as in 2019 reveals that the proposed rental for One Alexandra Place is $600,000 plus Vat PER MONTH.
ISSUE OF CHANGE OF USER – MEMO DATED APRIL 15, 2019
This deed which came originally from the State for the land – one shilling.
Has the rental value of the land changed since?
In that memo there is a request for the change of use from private residential dwelling house to commercial.
How did they even build this multimillion-dollar building without approval? Nearly 10 years the building was rented out – but you’re now asking for change of use?
Property 2 – #3 Alexandra Street – which the Cabinet led by Dr Rowley, and of which the Attorney General is a part – approved. It has been reported that the State has paid more $165 million in just under ten years for 1 Alexandra Place – reportedly with no formal lease.
Property 3 – Property rented for the Ministry of Social Development – St Vincent
Property 4 – Property rented thru National Security – Agra Street
In this country, Faris can call upon people to explain their wealth but one clan in Port of Spain that finances the PNM owns more than 200 properties in and around Port-of-Spain.
I want Al-Rawi to tell the country how much money he and his relatives received in contracts, rent and briefs from this Government on an annual basis, and for what.
The Way Forward with the UNC
My friends, I know that times are hard, and it is often difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
But there is hope. There is light – and that light is the light of the Rising Sun.
The UNC is ready, and we are working on our plan to rescue Trinidad and Tobago and restore our nation.
We worked hard to improve the lives of all citizens, and we remain committed to doing this when we return to Government.
The UNC will always work to help people keep more of their money, and to provide assistance where possible to those in need.
We are a party with a vision and a clear plan to lead Trinidad and Tobago towards a better future and ensuring that we build an economy of the future that works for every community.
I have never wavered in my focus on people-centred development, and this is why my team was working to diversify the economy, equip citizens with the skills to enter the digital age, create sustainable well-paying jobs, and bring in new investments and much-needed foreign exchange.
I am committed to our party’s original vision, which has always been to create a better future for all citizens. And I am ready, willing and able to take on once again the mantle of leadership necessary to move our country forward.
If you believe in that vision, I ask you to join us. Stand with the United National Congress.
I ask that we come together, all citizens; one people, to work to make our country safer, for ourselves and our children.
Are you ready to move with us? Are you ready to return the party with a plan to rescue Trinidad and Tobago from this uncaring, incompetent Rowley-led Government?
Let us work together to return our beloved nation to greatness. God bless and thank you all.