Petrotrin Closure due to NO Foresight 

The closure of Petrotrin has now lead to this, where in the 19th April, 2022 we see another increase of fuel prices at the pump. On 30th November, 2018, Petrotrin was shut down with the country’s refinery officially closed after 101 years in operation. Approximately 5,500 permanent and temporary/casual employees lost their jobs, not to mention many downstream industries. 

An increase in fuel prices at this time will cause more hardship on the population, it will be a massive blow to every citizen financially, especially at this particular time, right after such a lockdown period of inactivity.  

There are so many unanswered questions here as to why Petrotrin was closed down. They remain unanswered to this day.  

Like everything in this country, it’s forgotten in 9 days as we focus on the new scandals and topics that change the narrative so that no one follows up the real story behind the closure of the refinery.

Who benefited from the closure? Why is it still closed after close to 4 years?

Like the World GTL Plant and the Desulfurisation Plant, questions remain about the status of the Fuel Gantry Caroni Terminal Facility that cost approximately 1.2 Billion (and still lies dormant in Caroni) and many, many more . We have never gotten proper answers or accounting information on why these projects failed, who was ultimately responsible and who profited from the demise of these projects.

Therefore, it is critically important to not drop the ball on the closure of the Petrotrin Refinery. The Government must provide answers. Why is the refinery still in a state of disrepair? Why is it taking so long to get it sold or even get an interested party to take it over?

Before it’s closure we were told that it would not be an issue as there were several interested parties clamoring to buy the refinery and get it operational in a short space of time. But it is nearing 5 years and no action, Promises Never Materialize has never been more apparent.

The closure of the Refinery has the citizens between a rock and a hard place. They are already trying to cope with higher food prices and are still trying to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 lockdowns which was only recently lifted.

Now, amidst the grueling indictment on the citizens, the Minister of Finance Colm Imbert announced that from April 19th, 2022 gasoline prices will increase by $1.00 per litre. On Premium gasoline it will increase to $6.75 per litre and on Super gasoline it will increase to $5.97 per litre whereas Diesel goes up by $0.50 to $3.91 per litre. The price of Kerosene will also increase to $3.50.

Imbert used all sorts of excuses, deflections and stories in trying to paint a picture to explain the Government’s decision for the increase. He blamed the ongoing Ukrainian and Russian War, he blamed the international sanctions on Russia, he blamed the global increase in oil prices.

While he continues to blame, no matter how he tries to sugar-coat the increase in fuels at this time, there is no way he can get support from an already stressed population.  He shamelessly argued that the government is only increasing fuel by a dollar per litre but that the public would have to share the burden.

The price increase comes at the worst possible time for our country where the average citizen is struggling to make ends meet. Businesses are now trying to recover after the long period of lockdowns and now to be faced with this is only putting more hardship for the business owners, their employees and the population at large. There will be an inevitable ripple effect in increased cost for all goods and services.

People are stressed and worried about their ability to feed themselves, educate their children, pay utilities and essentially survive. Gasoline prices affects the sustainability of our nation as a whole. When the increase in prices is transferred onto our citizens, it causes an increase in goods and services and the shortage of foreign exchange amongst other tragedies.

The Government does not seem to be looking out for their citizens especially vulnerable families. All their decisions ultimately results in greater strain on the citizenry.  People needed time to adjust to the plethora of problems they have faced during the pandemic and some need more time to recover from the staggering losses they incurred.

However, the Government Ministers and this administration seem to be only concerned about their financiers, friends and their own personal incomes rather than the average citizen. They have been like this for the last 7 years.

Additionally, the possible implementation of property tax is dangerous. This toxic combination that will have our economy reeling for years. Loss of jobs, reduced incomes, problems with money circulating inside the economy itself are all problems we now face that seem insurmountable. 

The bottom line is inflation will start to rise and the Government is unable to make any coherent decisions that will amount to an improved quality of life for our people. 

I can only ask the a question, if we will ever see this great refinery operational again in our lifetime or are we to see other giant state asset fall to ruin under the incompetence of the “Great” People National Movement Government. 

– Neil Gosine North
East Regional Coordinator United National Congress