Finance Minister, Engineer Colm Imbert has once again demonstrated an attitude of arrogance when he tried to call out the Regional President of BPtt and almost with scorn said she relied on technocrats for advice as if that was a problem.  Last time I checked, BPtt is a successful global organization managing a budget that is significantly larger than the national budget of Trinidad and Tobago. Maybe their success is because of their understanding of the value of collaboration and the importance of relying on technocrats and subject matter experts for advice.  Maybe our failure as a nation is because we ignore the technocrats and rely on politicians like the current Minister of Finance who has no track record in Finance.

The Minister’s intemperance in referring to BPtt’s action is almost as bad as Roget’s infamous “take your platform and go”.  I guarantee you that the decision to “pause” was not made singly by this Australian Accountant. It would have had major direction from BPtt’s global team.  To add insult to injury, the “Engineer Finance Minister” referred to other operators in the market including Shell, EOG and BHP Billiton. I wonder what is he channelling!

A day later the “Engineer Finance Minister” attempted to explain that he simply meant to convey that “like any person without discipline-specific expertise, will need to rely on expert technical advice to arrive at an informed decision.”  This was a good comeback but an oversized shoe is already in his mouth. I looked at the presentation in Parliament and made the following observations:

Firstly,  the “Engineer Finance Minister” does not understand that organizations like BPtt are designed for seamless transition at the head.  His comment that a lot is happening at BP is instructive. It reflects the approach used by our “Engineer Finance Minister” during the transition from the People’s Partnership to the PNM.  Put everything on pause until I understand what is happening here.

He commented that Mrs. Fitzpatrick is neither a geologist nor a petroleum engineer but merely an accountant so in deciding to press “pause” she had to rely on advice.  In his subsequent explanation of what he meant, he talked about the importance of being advised. I wonder what happened to the advice given by the now defunct Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB) which he preferred to dissolve rather than take their advice.

My third observation is about the tone and I wonder if the head was a Mr. Fitzpatrick instead of woman, if he would have been so caustic in his remarks.  Trinidad and Tobago would be well served if Mr. Imbert apologizes to the head of BPtt for any unintended conclusions which  his intemperance may have conveyed.