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Out with the old

Friday, March 2, 2018

A big part of the restructuring of Petrotrin has just been confirmed by its chairman Wilfred Espinet. The large and unmanageable state energy company, which has been haemorrhaging billions of dollars for decades, is to be split in two.

Big changes are already taking place—on the day that president Fitzroy Harewood’s resignation took effect, the rest of the company’s leadership team was given their marching papers. However, these are just important first steps in a very complicated process to transform Petrotrin into a lean and efficient revenue-generating entity.

Make no mistake about it, what has already been put in train could end up being a monumental waste of time if all of the bad practices that reduced T&T’s biggest oil producer to a ward of the state are not eradicated once and for all. There are many guilty parties who must immediately mend their ways.

Past and present governments share equal blame for the culture of political patronage that has become embedded at the company. Tainted hiring practices meant that the company did not often benefit from having the best and brightest on its payroll. Instead, increasing over the years, Petrotrin has been weighed down with an expensive, inefficient and top-heavy operational structure.

Another old practice that must be dispensed with is the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union’s (OWTU) method of industrial relations—a system of collective bargaining that holds the company and country to ransom. Over the long term, with the accuracy of hind sight, that has resulted in a no-win situation for all concerned.

The workers, for their part, must seriously commit to significantly boosting productivity.

Unless a new culture of productivity, efficiency and transparency is established in the new energy companies, they will be doomed to fail.

An unexpected political comeback

Port-of-Spain South MP Marlene McDonald yesterday scored her latest surprising comeback from political banishment. Although this time she hasn’t been handed a full ministerial portfolio, this latest appointment is a remarkable return to office for a woman who was axed twice before by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

The fact that Ms McDonald is stepping into a portfolio overshadowed by the lengthy absence due to illness of Public Administration and Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie, puts her right back in the centre of a major political controversy.

Progress with Anti-Gang Bill

Finally, with Government conceding on a sunset clause, progress can be made on the Anti-Gang Bill. May good sense continue to prevail for its speedy passage and implementation.


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