UNC: PM’s Europe trip a ‘political joyride’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

David Lee – SUREASH CHOLAI

Opposition MP for Pointe a Pierre David Lee on Sunday questioned whether the Prime Minister’s recent trip to Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Netherlands was nothing more than a PR stunt.

Dr Rowley returned from his state business trip on Sunday.

He left for Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands on September 2 for meetings with major global energy companies with investments in Trinidad and Tobago.

He held meetings with executives from Proman which is one of the largest downstream investors in the petrochemical gas industry in TT, particularly in methanol.

He also held meeting with executives from British Petroleum (BP) and Shell. He was accompanied by Energy Minister Stuart Young.

Lee said the Opposition was demanding accountability for all citizens. He said the prime minister’s trip was “a political joyride which he is calling an energy trip.”

Lee also said there were several questions he wanted to ask Rowley.

He said Rowley made two energy trips for the year which have not produced results for the country.

“Is there going to be an increase in oil and gas production for the country? Are we going to see new foreign direct investments that he is coming back home with in his briefcase and he is going to layout for us tomorrow of the millions and billions of new investment that he and Energy Minister Stuart Young have brought back for the country.”

Lee said the opposition believes it was a public relations stunt as the Budget Day was soon. The budget will be read on September 26.

He asked why did Rowley have to go to Germany to view one of Proman’s plants when there were 14 plants in TT.

A September 6 media report said Rowley met and travelled with Proman’s chief executive David Cassidy from Zurich, Switzerland to the company’s office in Dusseldorf, Germany.

It said they met to discuss exploring opportunities for development in TT.

It added that future projects including proposals related to upstream gas projects and proposals to carbon capture utilisation and storage featured in the talks.

But Lee asked whether the meeting had to do with Clico’s part-ownership in Methanol Holdings (Trinidad) Ltd.

“We are asking, tell us, if there has been any undertaking by negotiations in Switzerland to sell out the asset or the shares that Clico owns in the methanol plant in Point Lisas to Proman?”

Speaking of the Paria Commission of Enquiry (CoE) not having resources to begin the enquiry, Lee said, it was disheartening to read that commission chairman Jerome Lynch KC had to go public to “beg and ask for certain basic needs to get the commission going.”

Lynch said the commission was without pens, paper, scanners, internet, desks, chairs, office furniture or staff to process over 4,000 pieces of documents. He also said while the commission as ready to begin its job, it could not do so without the basic tools.

“It is a setback for the families of the lost divers that they have to now witness this debacle that is taking place in front of them and in the media,” Lee said.

UNC called on the Government to put things in place to work with the commission so it can bring closure to the families of the four divers that died in February.