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posted 20 Sep 2018, 06:14 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 20 Sep 2018, 08:50 ]
Left to right Boysie Prevatt and Johnny O'Halloran
“On an individual level this asks us to always consider our choices and actions in light of the impact it will have on our families, communities and the entire nation.”

(Keith Rowley)

Even for the successors to O’Halloran and Boysie Prevatt, this bunch of political hustlers and confidence tricksters; these front men for the billionaires who treat public funds as theirs to be pilfered, looted and plundered, the present administration take the cake for their duplicity, dishonesty, mendacity and venality.

Their justifications for destroying Petrotrin changed from day to day. They are attempting to keep the population on the back foot with their misinformation, disinformation and skewed statistics. In other words they are trying to baffle us with gobar. Writer/poet/oil worker Tony Bedassie, quite rightly, characterised their propaganda assault as The Art of Deception.

They pluck figures out of the air. They say it was 1700 workers to go while some 2600 others would be impacted, whatever that means. All kinds of figures keep popping up from nowhere. They talk about permanent jobs being affected. They are not talking about the temporary and casual workers who will be thrown onto the pavement in addition to thousands of contractor workers and workers who work for the suppliers and service providers who depend on the refinery for their survival.

This is not about 1700 jobs as they were trying to make us believe. This is going to affect thousands of gainfully employed people in the South. In turn the loss of these jobs is going to devastate small and medium retail business like stores, hardwares, food vendors, market vendors, pubs, restaurants, pharmacies, groceries, taxi drivers, workers in engineering firms, fabrication, maxi drivers in Marabella, Gasparillo, Claxton Bay, San Fernando, Point Fortin, Palo Seco, Debe, Siparia, Penal etc.

Large areas of the country are going to become an economic wasteland: mortgage foreclosures, cut back on children's education, inability to meet loan commitments.

The Lashley Report was published in June 2017. It said Petrotrin employs '5322 employees (3841 – Permanent and 1481 – Temporary) with 1676 (1197 – Permanent and 479 – Temporary) in the Upstream including Trinmar (oil production), 1835 (1328 – Permanent and 507 – Temporary) in the Refining and Marketing and 1463 (1055 – Permanent and 408 – Temporary) in Corporate and Administration and the President’s Group 354 (261 – Permanent and 93 – Temporary).' 

In an advertisement published in the Sunday Express of July 29 2018 entitled THE FACTS, Petrotrin claimed that it had 3,437
permanent employees 1,229 non-permanent employees. This was published before the decision to close the refinery was made public. The discrepancy in the figures may be explained by workforce reduction through attrition – retirement.

But that didn’t deter the Chairman of the Board from saying he did not know how many employees Petrotrin had and he wasn’t going to answer any more questions about numbers. This guy even more arrogant than GRowley! While he was bringing off on journalists Smiley Khan was giving another set of numbers in the Parliament.

Then there is all the jhanjhat about how many contractor workers would have to go home and how many suppliers would be affected and that the government had a plan to take care of fenceline communities.

It can never be ascertained with any precision how many non-Petrotrin workers would be affected, but some idea as to the magnitude of the job annihilation can be gleaned from figures presented to the joint select committee of March 21 2016 by then President of Petrotrin Fitzroy Harewood. These figures are more than two years old. Harewood said: “Petrotrin has about 1,000 registered vendors, approximately that and another 2,939 vendors in terms; 1,000 registered vendors are permanent”. (Verbatim notes of the fifth meeting of the joint select committee on state enterprises,  on Monday, March 21, 2016 at 9.08 a.m.).

It is not clear whether any of the vendors mentioned above are the hundreds of contractors who are tied to Petrotrin, but former President of Petrotrin Khalid Hassanali said in 2012 there were over 700 firms registered as contractors with 75% of them being local. Of course over the years the figures would have changed, but it is clear that hundreds of contractors would employ thousands of workers.

While slashing the throats of thousands of families, GRowley and Khan expressed great sadness at having to carry out this vicious deed. It's like those parents cutting their children's backsides and saying "this hurts me more than it hurts you!" Yeah right! Hear Smiley: "Who I am and what skills I develop I owe it to Petrotrin and it hurts my heart to see where the company has reached" (Newsday September 7th 2018). He, then, unwittingly, places the blame for the situation where it belongs - on himself and his colleagues, by saying "the commanders of the commanding heights did not do a good job" Oh what a tangled web...

Taking instructions from ROYAL DUTCH SHELL chairman Charles Holliday?
The Prime Minister goes to La Brea to launch a project which is being financed by a loan from China's Exim Bank and which is going to further burden the country's debt portfolio and says:"The government's timing of this, of bringing it together is not accidental.We drove to this place knowing we are about to lose  some jobs in Pointe A Pierre...people who will walk away with a separation cheque at Pointe A Pierre will end up in La Brea, Point Fortin, somewhere..." Whaaat! The deceit is clear when it is realised that the business contracts for the dry dock project was signed by Vasant Bharath in February 2014 and witnessed by then Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar.

Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister of Trade, claims the belt for foolishness, when she went to address the launch of the Gasparillo Chamber of Commerce and assured the business people gathered that the "soon to be restructured Petrotrin is set to re-energise South Trinidad and expand opportunities for participation by all." (Daily Express. Monday 10 September 2018). She compounds her dotishness by adding "the people and communities of Gasparillo and other fence-line areas will be given the opportunity to rebuild and recover and, more importantly, participate in the growth we see ahead." Where on earth or Mars is this person living!

Gasparillo Chamber President, Anil Ramjit, certainly didn't put water in his mouth when he told Gopee-Sccon "being a fenceline community, we will suffer the most as Gasparillo and its environs are densely populated with Petrotrin employees,service companies, contractors and contracted employees....this action can and will affect immediately the cash flow within the community and therefore, the purchasing power of our residents will decline...the small and micro businesses within the community could find itself cash starved and struggling, which will eventually lead to to downsizing in a desperate attempt to stay profitable, break even or even survive...our very survival is in grave danger."

So let us not be fooled by politicians who would do anything to keep the population confused and uncertain of what to believe, while they ensure that “the local private sector obtains a larger share of the activity generated by the energy sector, especially in exploration and production, in addition to more traditional areas such as fabrication, remediation, construction, design, logistics, well services, platform operations and maintenance and support services” as stated in the PNM manifesto 2015. 

Go back and read the quotation at the top of the page. Tell me if that is not the depths of dishonesty. If GRowley considered “choices and actions in light of the impact it will have on our families, communities and the entire nation.” and he still went ahead and destroyed the lives of so many thousands then he makes Beelzebub look like a trainee imp.