OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is promising to reopen the Petrotrin refinery at Pointe-a-Pierre, even as she blames the ruling People’s National Movement administration for the closure of several operations on the Point Lisas Industrial Estate.
Speaking at a virtual meeting on Thursday night, Persad-Bissessar said the energy sector is in the worst state it has ever been in, pointing out that for the first time in the nation’s history, seven petrochemical plants have shut down in six months.
“And don’t let them fool you into thinking that Covid-19 led to that because since 2017 plants have been closing down,” T&T’s former prime minister said.
She said the millions of dollars in lost revenue and hundreds of job losses at Point Lisas are all as a direct result of the Government’s poor negotiations with upstream producers of natural gas.
“After two years, why is the Petrotrin refinery still shut down and thousands of former energy sector workers still on the breadline?” she asked.
“Tonight I make a promise to the people of San Fernando West, San Fernando East and Pointe-a-Pierre who were all dependent on the Petrotrin Refinery as well as Point Lisas. My Government will reopen the refinery. We will restore your jobs and support the redevelopment of the surrounding fenceline communities,” said Persad-Bissessar.
The current administration paid the over 5,000 permanent, temporary and casual employees of Petrotrin in excess of $2.6 billion in termination packages as well as millions more to restructure the US$850 million bullet payment on the company’s debt that was due last August.
Persad-Bissessar also promised to resuscitate the economy especially in the South land by creating a Cedros/Moruga/Mayaro economic zone.
Persad-Bissessar said a UNC Government will immediately implement its National Economic Transformation Plan with diversification being the heart of its vision.
She said the party has developed 12 key strategic prosperity engines spread across communities in T&T.
These prosperity engines will mobilise and engage the private sector, both local and international, and will have large positive multiplier effects in kick-starting economic recovery, fostering growth and supporting diversification, she added.
She said the proposed Cedros/Moruga/Mayaro economic zone will comprise a commercial services port, agro-processing facilities for coconut, rice, peppers, pineapple and cocoa products; eco-tourism facilities tapping into the potential of the scenic, pristine landscape along the Columbus Channel; real estate development, housing and other business activities.
“My government will provide all assistance as needed to get it up and running and will retain a small ownership percentage,” she said.
Persad-Bissessar said to fund these projects, private investors will be required to join with the Government to fund projects in the Cedros/Moruga/Mayaro special development zone.