Roget: Patriotic still wants to buy PaP refinery

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

VENERATING ‘BUZZ”: OWTU president general Ancel Roget pays respects at the bust of labour union icon Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler in Siparia as part of Labour Day activities on Sunday. PHOTO BY LINCOLN HOLDER –

ALTHOUGH rumours abound that a US-based company is Government’s preferred bidder for the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, the Oilfield Workers Trade Union’s (OWTU) Patriotic Energies and Technologies Co Ltd is still hoping it can acquire and resume operations at the refinery.

Speaking on a Labour Day platform in Fyzabad on Sunday, Patriotic’s head and OWTU president general, Ancel Roget, said the company stands ready to make the purchase.

“I wish to remind all that Patriotic won the bid, Patriotic has the money, Patriotic has experienced workers, Patriotic was and is still ready to purchase, refurbish and restart the refinery.

“But Government in a conniving and underhanded way, closed the process in the middle of negotiations,” Roget said during his 90-minutes speech.

Roget said he suspected there was never any genuine intention by the Prime Minister and his government to give Patriotic a fair chance to acquire the refinery so that, “ordinary people” can take control of the refinery and lift their economic standing comparable to that of the country’s minority elites.

He accused Government of being dishonest and deceitful with the handling of the refinery which he said was the people’s assets.

“Comrades, you must remember that in 2018 the trade union movement warned that the country will face many dire consequences from the shutting down of Petrotrin and closure of the refinery.

“Today we are vindicated as the ordinary consumer and taxpayer continues to suffer with high inflation and unemployment with no support, as a direct result of this ill-conceived economic decision.”

He said if Petrotrin and the refinery were still operational there would be no need to increase the cost of fuel which the Government did on several occasions.

Referencing a BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) new report that oil refineries are making nearly five times as much money from refining petrol as they did a year ago, Roget called on the audience to juxtapose that with the “misinformation” coming from the Government.

He added that in a “feeble attempt” to defend his decision (to close the refinery) the Prime Minister “without shame,” told the country that high oil prices do not necessarily mean more money.

“These people (in Government) are taking you the people for fools and without apology, they continue to insult the intelligence of the masses.

“Could you imagine what the country stood to benefit had government listened to the union and honour the April 3, 2018, memorandum of agreement to properly restructure the company?

“Or even better, how much the country could have gained if Government was genuine and completed the acquisition process with Patriotic? Because with a Patriotic acquisition, all ordinary people would have stood to benefit,” Roget said.

He said the OWTU is waiting “with bated breath” to see who the preferred bidder is, what sweetheart arrangement they got and what connection they have with members of Government and their friends – the local elites.