Demise of Refining – The Legacy of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley

I left the oil Industry in 1989 because I was impatient with the wait for the VSEP money which was rumoured to be on the way.  Since then, citizens of Trinidad and Tobago knew that Trintoc/Petrotrin needed dramatic restructuring, but our politicians continued to use the company as a reward centre for party faithfuls while organizational decay took root.

Petrotrin’s arrow to the heart occurred under the watch of the PNM with the failed gas to liquids deal. The principle of collective responsibility requires that the current Prime Minister and Minister of Finance take full responsibility and admit that they were part of that decision making.  They were part of the government of the day. Maybe this bold move by Prime Minister Rowley is such an admission and an attempt to redeem himself and the PNM. But this decision in his 35th month in office is problematic.  Does he have the time to recover from the fall out? 1,700 families will wake up with a cheque in hand, but little else.  Several other families of contractors, small businesses and suppliers will soon after realize the dagger to their hearts.  The “Wetman” and John Public will be asking … so how am I getting gas for my TIDA? The legacy voters of the PNM will be waiting to be told what the next move will be.  The Prime Minister is relying on the PNM faithful to help him ride this tumultuous wave.

Over the past 20 years, we have seen alternative administrations dismantle the decisions of their predecessors to the detriment of the country.  You and I, our children and our grandchildren will all have had to pay the price for the arrogance and lack of collaboration of these people. Not one Prime Minister over the past 20 years has demonstrated the ability to act in the national interest by doing whatever was necessary to collaborate on these huge decisions.  Prime Minister Rowley could have used this opportunity to “Collaborate With the Enemy” (the title of a book by Adam Kahane – ) with a vision of Trinidad and Tobago in 50+ years.  This issue is bigger than crime and money laundering because of its economic, social and political impact.  My memory of it will be how my generation failed after a 75-year experiment with the refining industry.

The founder of the PNM, the late Dr. Eric Williams sold me the concept of taking charge of the commanding heights of the economy.  His successor is now systematically dismantling every vestige of those commanding heights.

For more than two years, I have been writing about the need for accountability, transparency and collaboration and how it can potentially impact us positively.  This is another lost opportunity for true collaboration in order to change the conversation. Instead what prevails is the “winner take all” strategy and dominance of the patriarchy.

So far, your legacy, Mr. Prime Minister, is to dismantle the vision of our first Prime Minister.

I suppose, when you return to Mason Hall and the 3 golf courses, you will feel proud that it was not “From Mason Hall to White Hall” but From Mason Hall to Mason Hall!

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