We maintain our position that transparency and accountability are essential in any disposal of public property to private sector entities. Transparency is even more critical now since the Office of the Procurement Regulator is still not operational notwithstanding the law has been passed since 2015.
In her Budget response, Leader of the Opposition Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar said, “While we welcome the decision to sell the refinery to Patriotic Energies and Technologies Limited, we do not trust this government who may, in fact, be setting up the workers.”
We wish to stress, once again, that we are not against the OWTU and workers and indeed wish them well, but we continue to call for transparency, full disclosure and accountability on this refinery deal.
We understand that there is a lot of political capital to be gained from clouding and polluting this issue. But here are the facts, the Keith Rowley regime took a callous decision to send thousands of workers home when they closed Petrotrin with no coherent transition plan. The same regime haphazardly announced a sale of the refinery, again without any details, leaving the country with more questions than answers.
The Rowley regime has waged war against the workers of Petrotrin, vilifying them, so much so that to this day, many cannot find work elsewhere. The plight of the Petrotrin worker remains the fault of this failed Rowley regime.
The UNC has not filed any lawsuit seeking an injunction to block the sale of the refinery as reported.
The party notes that concerned citizens have filed a constitutional claim against the failure of Finance Minister Colm Imbert in his capacity as Chairman of the Joint Select Committee on Energy Affairs to convene a meeting of the JSC for close to two years and in the claim they seek a stay preventing the government from making any further decisions on the sale of the Petrotrin refinery until the matter is determined.
We wish to state categorically that these individuals are pursuing this matter in their private capacity as they are entitled to do. Access to the courts for the determination of rights is a fundamental right enshrined in our Constitution.
We also note that the government rejected a request made by another private citizen for information regarding the sale of the refinery. That private citizen was unjustly attacked and vilified by none other than the Prime Minister.
The question arises as to what the Rowley regime is hiding from the population.
They have presided over the country’s worst economic blunder, the closure of Petrotrin. We insist that they must be held accountable. A billion-dollar state asset should not be sold without proper scrutiny.
The people of Trinidad and Tobago must stand resolutely on the side of accountability and transparency and demand answers from this Rowley regime.