RADHICA DE SILVA
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It was supposed to be completed since Friday but Patriotic Energies & Technologies Ltd is still negotiating the deal to acquire and operate the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery.

The company, wholly-owned by the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union, was named the preferred bidder ten months ago and despite calls by the United National Congress to stop the sale, the company’s directors Ancel Roget, Richard Lee and Ozzi Warwick, are still attempting to finalise the terms of the deal.

T&T Holdings Limited chairman Newman George, Paria Fuel Trading Company CEO Mushtaq Mohammed, attorney Ulric Mc Nichols and technical staff, as well as Patriotic’s directors, are involved in the negotiations.

During an interview yesterday and amidst speculation the agreement had already been secretly signed, Warwick said, “It is just a continuation of the campaign of lies, misinformation and deceit as characterised by the UNC. We are currently engaged in discussions and shall respond to that foolishness at the appropriate time.”

Last Thursday, Roget said the company was close to signing the first stage of an asset purchase agreement and predicted this stage would be closed by July 24 but this did not materialise. During that press conference, Roget expressed confidence that they will secure the deal and conclude the quest which was 18 months in the making. He said once the asset purchase agreement was signed, Patriotic will to enter into the second round of negotiations, following which the deal will be closed off and the company will take control of the refinery. He said 4,500 jobs will be provided for citizens, including scaffolders, labourers, technical workers, operators and safety officers.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has been opposed to the sale. During a recent political meeting, she called on the Government to explain under what circumstances it decided to give the multi-billion-dollar refinery and port to Patriotic, “without undertaking any due diligence on the preferred bidder.” She also called on the Minister of Finance to state any and all foreign partners associated with Patriotic.

Former deputy political leader of the UNC Dr Roodal Moonilal has also spoken out against the negotiation, saying said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley ought not to be consummating any deals and selling out the state’s assets and property.

After shutting down and restructuring Petrotrin in 2018, the Government announced it was granting Patriotic Energies a three-year moratorium on the purchase price and interest, and a further ten years to pay the US$700 million it offered for the refinery. Discussions surrounding the finalisation of the deal were delayed due to COVID-19.

Roget has assured he will continue to update the nation on the progress of negotiations as it progresses.