Rowley defends Jindal: PNM doing best for Trinidad and Tobago’s future

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Rowley at the PNM’s Breakfast with the PM event at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain, on June 26. – Photo courtesy Dr Rowley

THE Prime Minister on June 26 defended the visit to TT of Indian steel and energy magnate Naveen Jindal – with a possible interest in buying the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery – after opposition complaints the businessman was facing bribery charges in India.

Dr Rowley was addressing a Breakfast with the Prime Minister event at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain, held as a fundraiser for the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) and attended by businessmen, MPs, councillors and visiting Indian businessmen.

He justified mothballing the refinery as it was a liability that could have bankrupted the country and then poured scorn on a local offer made whereby the government was asked to provide funding for the purchase.

Rowley then thanked TT diplomats in Ghana for publicising the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery among Ghanaian businessmen, and TT diplomats in India for helping introduce Jindal to TT.

“But there seems to be an attempt to dissuade foreigners from investing in TT. Interestingly enough, it is coming from the same people who would say from time to time, ‘There is not enough foreign direct investment.’

“Lo and behold, we now have the potential for direct foreign investment from people who want to invest abroad and who are investing abroad – and we are saying, ‘If you are investing in Oman and Qatar and Dubai and Spain, wherever you are, consider TT’ – and that seems to be upsetting some people.”

He said the party was accustomed to such criticism and would not be dissuaded.

“There has not been a single initiative in this country of any consequence that has been advanced by the PNM which was not resisted by a faction of the population.”

The PM said all his government’s efforts to secure the country’s well-being were to give the country’s children and grandchildren a future.

“It is not about us but who comes after us.”

He said proposals by others to reopen Caroni (1975) Ltd and the refinery and to “meet every social demand that was made” could not be serious conversations.

“Improved governance is a willingness to do all the difficult things for the benefit of the wider national community.”

Earlier, he said many people in TT take many things for granted, but said to run TT required much vision.

The PM rejected the idea of devaluation – despite the urgings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – saying it would make everything more expensive.

“It is not the role of government to create hardship for the people. The role is to give people a chance to survive.”

Rowley touched on government initiatives in the energy sector. He said the Atlantic LNG arrangement had been renegotiated by way of shareholding and the price paid for gas exports. He said under a new formula negotiated, TT would not be shackled to the Henry Hub price of natural gas – referring to a hub of natural gas pipelines in Louisiana – but rather, LNG earnings would also be based on prices fetched at markets in Asia and Europe.

He lamented that some individuals in TT were hoping TT failed in creating arrangements to market Venezuelan gas. Saying Venezuela had taken the novel step of letting TT exploit gas from the Manatee gas field, which is linked to Venezuela’s Loran field, he said, “Manatee gas will be on its way. Isn’t that progress?”