Economist: Let refinery deal be transparent

While he cel­e­brat­ed the planned re­open­ing of the Pointe-a-Pierre re­fin­ery, econ­o­mist Dr Roger Ho­sein says the deal be­tween the Gov­ern­ment and the OW­TU-owned Pa­tri­ot­ic En­er­gies and Tech­nolo­gies Ser­vices Lim­it­ed, must be trans­par­ent.

Speak­ing to Guardian Me­dia at a Ro­tary Club sym­po­sium, Ho­sein said the con­tin­ued clo­sure of the re­fin­ery does noth­ing to add to the coun­try’s GDP and con­tributes lit­tle to em­ploy­ment.

“If we can bring the re­fin­ery back in­to pro­duc­tive use by whichev­er eco­nom­ic agent takes the re­fin­ery, I am hap­py be­cause it is a pos­i­tive ad­di­tion to the coun­try’s GDP when com­pared to last year No­vem­ber when it was closed,” he said.

How­ev­er, he added: “The deal must be done in a trans­par­ent and fair man­ner for the ben­e­fit of the Trinidad and To­ba­go econ­o­my.”

Not­ing that de­tails of the deal re­main out­side of the pub­lic do­main, Ho­sein added: “We heard about an up­front pay­ment of US$700 mil­lion and then we heard that a three year mora­to­ri­um will be of­fered on prin­ci­ple on in­ter­est and af­ter three years the com­pa­ny will have a ten year pe­ri­od in which to pay back the prin­ci­pal at a com­pet­i­tive in­ter­est rate. As long as the mech­a­nism by which this was done was fair and trans­par­ent and can hold up to scruti­ny, I am hap­py and com­fort­able.”

Ho­sein said the re­open­ing of the re­fin­ery will bring back eco­nom­ic ac­tiv­i­ty in Mara­bel­la, Gas­par­il­lo and Clax­ton Bay, com­mu­ni­ties which suf­fered be­tween 20 per cent to 40 per cent eco­nom­ic de­cline since the clo­sure of the re­fin­ery.

Asked who were the OW­TU’s fi­nanciers and where they got US$700 mil­lion to buy the re­fin­ery, Ho­sein said he ex­pects the OW­TU will be able to de­clare those de­tails soon.

“There is a one-month pe­ri­od in which the union has to re­spond to the State of­fer. There are sev­er­al con­di­tion­al­i­ties. The union will have to chance to es­tab­lish fis­cal in­cen­tives, tax breaks and oth­er cri­te­ria that the State has set. The union no longer has to come up with $700 mil­lion up­front. It is be­ing giv­en a three-year mora­to­ri­um with­out in­ter­est and the union can use that US$ 700 mil­lion as­sum­ing one of their for­eign fi­nanciers can sup­ply that re­source and get that re­fin­ery start­ed up and go­ing,” he ex­plained.

Ho­sein said in­ter­est­ing times are ahead and he is look­ing for­ward to hear­ing the de­tails of the deal.

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