PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley says despite the loss of thousands of jobs over the past three and half years, his administration has been able to keep the nation out of the clutches of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and urged citizens never forget the atrocities of the previous government.
In the second part of his “Mind Your Business” presentation on Monday night, Rowley told a television audience that “we did not use retrenchment in the public service” as a means of dealing with economic situation he inherited when he came to office in September 2015.
He said unlike other Caribbean countries, notably, Barbados and Jamaica, that had sought assistance from the IMF, “We will take our own medicine and manage ourselves.”
Defends closure of PETROTRIN
In his presentation, Rowley defended the decision to shut down the loss-making oil refinery at the state-owned company, PETROTRIN, noting that while it meant the inevitable loss of thousands of jobs, thousands others however have found employment with the new companies formed to take on the role previously undertaken by PETROTRIN.
He said four billion dollars in royalties were not paid just to allow the company to continue to stay in business, adding that was the only company in the country that was not paying taxes. He said the forecast for the company was two billion in losses every year going forward.
“We restructured the company in 2018. The debt owed by PETROTRIN would be serviced by the Heritage Petroleum Company, a subsidiary of PETROTRIN, so it would relieve the Finance Minister of the burden of servicing PETROTRIN’s debt, which left more money for the minister to do other things in the country.”
But Rowley said that while Trinidad and Tobago economy is based on the oil and gas sectors, there was need to diversify into other areas.
In the way of diversification, Rowley said the new Phoenix Park will be used for manufacturing aluminum cables and make sheet aluminum as well as aluminum wheels for cars. He said the methanol plant will also be on stream. He said the drydock at La Brea will invite ships to come in for repairs.
He also said he has approached the private sector with proposals to invest in agriculture in the over 1,000 acres of agriculture land that has been laid to waste in Aripo.
“This is job creation. These areas of employment will generate jobs.”
He reminded the nation that the previous coalition government led by Kamla Persad Bissessar had engaged in several policies resulting in a significant decline in revenue to the country.
But he said three and a half years later, the statistics show the country is improving.