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The Petrotrin predicament

Published: 
Sunday, December 3, 2017

Fitzroy Harewood’s resignation as President of Petrotrin was the right thing to do. No executive who presided over what transpired in the recent past at the state-owned entity, can afford to divorce themselves from the rapidly deteriorating perceptions of the oversight at the lumbering state enterprise. The Guardian reported yesterday that the company’s board is expected to submit a plan to the Cabinet for the restructuring of the company, based on a recommendation from a seven-member team earlier last week to establish three independent business units.

Whether Harewood agreed with the plans and reports to date, undoubtedly formed part of the basis for his resignation. As the state-owned enterprise struggles to right size itself in the face of legal battles and losses, it is being closely scrutinised by stakeholders across the country.

High salaries and low production, coupled with the multimillion dollar A&V oil production scandal was the final straw for an entity beleaguered by inefficiency. Harewood’s resignation is expected to take effect at the end of February 2018. Whoever replaces him is faced with the monumental task of restructuring a company heavily in debt. That executive will be expected to deliver on the plans to turn around the company, whether it means layoffs, partial privatisation or some other mechanism to dramatically tighten operations. There is no doubt Harewood was in a difficult position at Petrotrin, but now that the die is cast on his tenure the taxpayers currently keeping Petrotrin afloat are demanding results. We simply cannot afford Petrotrin in its current state.

Do more than disapprove

The Government of this country, through the Trade Minister, has indicated it does not support the increase in the price of flour. The sentiment is fair enough, given the widespread impact such a move will have on the average citizen during a tough economic period. The foundation to justify the position, however, is questionable. The State simply cannot afford to intervene in the matter directly, they are not in a position to heavily subsidise production and the pricing of the raw materials inputs which play a major role in costs, are beyond their control. One would assume the best course is to let the market determine the price, while ensuring increased productivity at NFM. While no one likes price increases on basic goods, we need more than a statement of disapproval. Suggest an alternative, an option or a solution.

Stay to get away

It’s easy to get caught up in the headlines of jailbreaks, corruption and bloodshed, but this newspaper encourages you to take a moment every weekend to enjoy the beauty that still exists in our country. T&T is home to beauty beyond measure. From the Balandra waves to the Paramin views and the cuisine of the South, there is always something new to be discovered. Try out T&T, it’s our own.