Leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) David Abdulah said it is important that government comes clean with respect to the liens and mortgages as it relates to the Petrotrin refinery deal.
Speaking during a webinar on Wednesday, Abdulah called for national clarity on the mortgage arrangements for the former Petrotrin refinery and port operations and also asked whether there are other loans taken out with these assets to use as collateral.
Reports are Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Ltd (TPHL) used the assets of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd as collateral for loans.
Abdulah said there are reports that Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Ltd (TPHL) used the assets of the Guaracara Refining Company (Pointe-a-Pierre refinery) and Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd as security for the refinancing of loans inherited by Petrotrin.
Abdulah said, based on information, the Government must answer several questions.
“Was permission/approval sought for a state company to incur these debts, and was it obtained?
“If so, how the Cabinet then agreed to sell to Patriotic when they knew what was taking place when the assets were mortgaged?”
He went on to state that there are very powerful forces in and outside the country that was opposed to Patriotic, acquiring the refinery and port operations.
Abdulah said one of those forces is the opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the UNC, who from day one, opposed Patriotic getting the refinery.
He said “Mrs Persad-Bissessar is trying to put not just a fly in the ointment – she is trying to put a spanner in the works to scuttle it. She wants to scuttle it because she has always been opposed to it.”
Patriotic had initially offered an upfront cash payment of US$700 million for the refinery.
Persad-Bissessar said that this purchase price was now reduced to US$500 million and Patriotic was also asking for government to cover $26 million in fees.
All in all, Abdulah maintained that citizens would benefit significantly if Patriotic acquires the assets.
He said government needs to continue the negotiation process with Patriotic as “That is the best and only way to get economic activities going with the restart of the refinery and port facilities.”