Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar
By Sue-Ann Wayow
OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has not denied any of her statements on Trafigura Group Pte Ltd involvement in the purchase of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery by Patriotic Energies and Technology Company Limited.
And she is standing by her statements on Monday night concerning the proposed bid by Patriotic for the purchase of the Guaracara refinery saying that they will not jeopardise any potential deal.
Persad-Bissessar said, “They did not dispute the price that Patriotic is now willing to pay for the refinery and Paria. They did not dispute that the assets of the former Petrotrin were mortgaged by government.
“They did not dispute that Trafigura has indicated that they want full tax concessions and that will be a further blow to the treasury given that Paria has being remitted taxes to the people of Trinidad and Tobago or the past two years.
“They did not dispute that Paria will be included in the sale of the refinery.”
She said, “Instead of shedding light on the issues, they choose to attack the messenger in order to deflect from the fact that they are incapable of responding to the message.”
“If there is a good deal, a good deal will prevail,” Persad-Bissessar said on Friday.
She added, “Compared to the Sandals bacchanal that went on, that is not going to drive away any serious investor in any negotiations or agreement where it is going to benefit them.”
The Opposition Leader was heavily criticised by both Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and President General of the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) Ancel Roget for the manner in which they said was sensitive information being brought to the public.
Both Rowley and Roget said that her statements were ill-intended with the hope that any potentials agreements could fall apart.
Speaking at a virtual press conference, Persad-Bissessar also added that her information was in no way an attempt to sidetrack the public from the congratulatory message to US President elect Joe Bidden that went bad as was also suggested by Rowley.
Persad-Bissessar displaying the same documents, she displayed on Monday night during the United National Congress (UNC) virtual meeting said, “This is the people’s business and that is why I brought it. Anytime that I find anything that is not transparent, that is not to the benefit of the people of Trinidad and Tobago, I will expose them.”
And she stated that Rowley did not deny any of her statements concerning Trafigura Group Pte Ltd alleged involvement, the mortgaging of Petrotrin’s assets and the price of the Paria Fuel Trading Company assets.
She again questioned what is the proposed price for the assets belonging to Paria Fuel Trading Company and if indeed, Patriotic Energies owned by the OWTU will be able to make above board purchases of the assets since she claims that there was yet no guaranteed funder and Trafigura could not be trusted.
“We are forced to question whether another buyer is lined up,” she said.
She also asked if the government intended to use funds from the Heritage and Stablisation Fund to clear off the billion dollar mortgage she claimed rested in a US bank.
Again detailing issues surrounding Patriotic Energies proposal, Persad-Bissessar echoed the statements of Dr Roodal Moonilal who said when the UNC administration dealt with Trafigura, there were no US sanctions on those companies.
She questioned government’s involvement claiming that government was fully aware of Trafigura’s interest in Paria’s assets.
She said, “The government when they said that Patriotic was the preferred bidder indicated that they had to come up with ten conditions and one of them, it was the government that said you have to bring an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Trafigura. Now they are saying that they did not have anything to do with Trafigura. Why did the government insist for an MOU with Trafigura to finalise these negotiations?”
She asked why was the foreign multinational company so interested in that particular business deal and if due diligence was done regarding the source of Trafigura’s funding firmly claiming that Trafigura’s condition in order to provide financing was the transfer of Paria Fuel Trading Ltd assets which Roget stated no foreign company will be able to take over should Patriotic Energies acquire the requested assets.
And Persad-Bissessar also warned Finance Minister Colm Imbert that if he does not release new accurate information about the present state of the banking sector in Trinidad and Tobago, she would because again, citizens had a right to know the real issues occurring in the country.