Richard Lee

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Patriotic Energies and Technologies Limited is still waiting for a meeting to discuss why the Government rejected its latest proposal to acquire Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre refinery and port.

On Saturday, Energy Minister Franklin Khan said the offer was rejected because it failed to address three key issues concerning the acquisition—purchase price financing, restart financing and priority lien on the assets.

But in an interview with Guardian Media yesterday, Patriotic director Richard Lee said something seemed amiss because all three issues were dealt with in the proposal.

“Patriotic submitted a proposal on 29 October which, in that proposal, would have reverted to the original proposal of last year June/July when Patriotic said it will give an upfront payment. What we submitted again was a proposal, not a final proposal, that addresses the payment for the assets,” Lee explained.

“We always had someone, or a party, organisation backing us for the restart financing. That was also in the proposal. They could have called the company and confirm that the financing will be made available for the restart financing instead of rejecting the proposal.”

He also said the upfront payment would have taken care of the priority lien on the assets.

“If you are paying for something outright, it is obvious that the assets should be made unencumbered or if there are encumbrances, the new owner will now have a full claim or full lien on the assets,” Lee said.

However, he said he was suspicious of the Government’s commitment to restarting the refinery with private capital injection.

“We most believe that the committee who is reviewing it did not get enough time to go through it comprehensively. We are asking that the evaluation team from the Cabinet be reinstalled. That team should be recommissioned so that they can evaluate the latest proposal that Patriotic Energies has put for the Government,” Lee contended.

Asked whether Patriotic will not be at a disadvantage, Lee said, “When you look back at the process started, it was a global process. Seventy-seven companies engaged in the process and out of that 77 companies, we had the best bid.”

He added, “We went through the rigorous exercise and met and passed through every milestone that process had engaged and at the end, when you look at top three, Patriotic came out ahead of the game, well for and in the interest of T&T by offering an upfront payment of US$700 million.

“The second bidder offered $42,000 US a month for the next 15 years. This is nowhere close to anything that this country needs. The third company was offering payment in taxes.”

He said now that the Government wanted to go back to the bidders, this move was not making logical sense.

“Is it that they have someone whom they are talking to? Or is it they want to give it to friends or family. That is the question we need to ask because when Patriotic offered $US700 million upfront, I don’t think if they go out now, they will get anything close to that $42,000 US per month they were offered in the second bid because the assets are now degenerating,” Lee said.

He called for the ministerial team set up last year to be re-commissioned so that further discussions could take place on the way forward.

Lee’s comments came hours before Energy Minister Fraklin Khan released a statement announcing that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had given a new mandate that a Cabinet-appointed Evaluation Committee be reconstituted to peruse all proposals for the refinery by November 30.