Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎


posted 17 Sep 2018, 09:44 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 17 Sep 2018, 09:50 ]
Immutable Facts

Petrotrin and all its assets do not belong to the Cabinet or to the OWTU. They are part of the patronage of citizens of T&T and such citizens should by right be made aware of and allowed input to any transactions or decisions concerning Petrotrin. Neither the current PM or the OWTU seem to be aware of this fact and I single out the PM – not Cabinet or Government, because he determines all that Cabinet decides and therefore has to personally accept responsibility for such.

The reason for the current state of Petrotrin lies squarely with a succession of Cabinets. The current PM and some of his senior Cabinet appointees contributed to the decisions that today have created the crisis in Petrotrin for which citizens paid in the past and will now have to pay for well into the future.

David Abdulah gave more than a hint as to what obtains regarding the management of Petrotrin….and indeed all State Owned Companies. He told us that what informed his decision to refuse Rowley’s invitation to sit on the Board of Petrotrin was when Rowley informed him that decisions of the Board had to be in line with “Government Policy” Given the reality of our corrupt and absurd Government/Governance arrangements the latter means that whatever he Rowley says is effectively “Government Policy” and has to be followed by his appointees to State Boards.

The problems we have regarding Government and Governance are not new and given the “nature of our politics” change will not be effected by any Party coming to power if only for the reason that such change will have to significantly diminish the power of the Leader of whichever Party controls the State…and with that will go opportunities for graft and corruption in all its forms. “If wishes were horses beggars would ride” applies to those expecting otherwise.

Petrotrin is symptomatic of a larger problem that afflicts all that Cabinet influences with its “Policy”. In many such areas this influence determines how we live and how we die. With regard to the latter I refer only to the ill fated and now obsolete “National Oncology Centre” which could have prevented an untold number of deaths if it was made operational, as it should have been, more than 12 years ago. It today stands as a 0.3 billion dollar plus incomplete white elephant - mocking the steady running of time, in mute but majestic testimony to a succession of murderous, callous, corrupt and uncaring Prime Minister and Cabinet Members.

There is one business in this country and it trades in the patrimony and assets that belong in equal proportions to all citizens. Our politicians and supposedly independent commentators like Terrence Farrell and Anthony Wilson have argued against this obvious fact. The businessmen and bankers understand it very well and for most of them the game is to court, buy and own influential members of Cabinet or their bag men. The persons who head Companies locally are all about that because it is only via such that their addiction to foreign exchange can be satisfied and their Companies kept afloat.


In the long run, electoral politics may bring about the change necessary to effect the ideals many have written about in commenting on the basket case of Petrotrin. But “in the long run” we will also all be dead and we have to consider which will come first.

I cannot see any reason for going along with any decision of the PM. Even if it comes supported by the best of Business Plans at the front end the grim reaper of “Policy” will see to its demise. His record and that of his predecessors - in almost everything they have done, predisposes him to failure. Their failures have survived and have been seen as successes, only because the reality has been masked by secrecy and undisclosed uneconomic costs.

Image result for trinmarThe tragic story of Trinmar is an example of a very profitable Company becoming otherwise because of Cabinet Policies and there are scores of state owned Companies that have suffered the same fate. It would be insanity on our part to try proving Einstein wrong by repeating the same mistake over and over again and expecting that Rowley and his Cabinet will somehow come up with an exception and deliver on a Sonnet. The infinite monkey theory also applies here (Google it).

I support the Unions on this issue as wretched and inept as they are. Their track record is far from laudable and does not recommend them for having any say in structuring or managing organisations that have to operate in the competitive, challenging and corrupt world of business where leadership, business acumen (wheeling and dealing), creativity, organisational skills and where morality and ethics is whatever you can get away with.

They have done little or nothing over the decades with the resources and influence at their disposal and as far as I know they do not even own a single oil service company, a gas station or a tanker to transport fuel locally.

I, however, support them because they have the potential to be a catalyst for a wave of “civil disobedience” and agitation which is what is required for bringing the PM and his Cabinet sycophants to the realisation that they are servants of all the people – not just those they have herded and corralled or for whatever sinister reasons, have become beholden.

The primary solution lies not in hoping against hope for Rowley to bring about the necessary reform of our “Government and Governance” arrangements but in insisting that we get honesty and transparency from him on the details of what he is about regarding Petrotrin and all our affairs generally.

We need to begin by having him prepare a detailed Balance Sheet of Petrotrin and its subsidiaries (one that tells truth and I am betting they don’t have such) to see its state of affairs. For reasons - that can only lie in the realm of the sinister, Rowley and Imbert seem to have an aversion to any form of diligence, transparency and accountability and any deliberations on Petrotrin need to be informed from inception by such It is only then that informed/meaningful analysis, risk evaluation and discussion can take place.

In order to literally kick start Rowley and his appointees in that direction we need to send in dozens if not scores of FOIA Enquiries and pre action protocol letters requesting specific information from the Office of the Prime Minister. Rabble rousing, resting, reflecting and engaging in unproductive discussions with Rowley and his appointees around their “Policy” is wasting time. And the same applies to talking about constitutional reform - when that is not going to come in time to save Petrotrin and the country from the Policies of Rowley or Kamla or whoever is next.

I hope the aforementioned gives some food for thought and more importantly for purposeful action.

The very recent offer to lease the facility made by the OWTU - obviously informed and prepared by an intelligence and a quality
expertise from outside the Union, is one that has a logic and an attraction that at minimum should give Rowley justification to pause and allow its thorough evaluation by industry experts – not those he currently has advising him.

The offer certainly puts the OWTU on the high ground in that it appears to respond to all the concerns expressed by him and his appointees relative to the existing/current financial liabilities of the Company, its ongoing operational losses, limitations to it feed of crude oil, its environmental and maintenance issues, etc. I would also add here the incurable corruption and incompetence of Cabinet.

It of course will also save Cabinet the $1b dollar plus it will have to pay out in the short term in retrenchment and related costs and all of this is not to mention the socio-economic impact that closure of Petrotrin will have on an untold number of persons and their families and there is much more to consider.

The offer as so far expressed has several shortcomings but if these can be overcome by way of a rigorous risk evaluation exercise, an agreement on a fair sharing of these risks and an ongoing R&D plan for the Company’s future, the Plan is one that could be far superior to what has come forth so far from Rowley and is Policy sycophants.

The OWTU offer deserves consideration and I would hope and expect that Roget this time around, would adhere to his recently discovered learning that Petrotrin is a business owned by the people of T&T and that whatever he is planning with whoever should be done transparently, honestly and with that clear understanding.