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.