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Friday, September 21, 2018

Where major industries are established, communities develop and thrive. That has definitely been the case over the decades that the Petrotrin refinery and associated business and manufacturing activities have been located in Pointe-a-Pierre, south Trinidad.

The refinery has influenced the rhythm and flow of life in Gasparillo, Marabella and nearby districts, which in turn supplied hundreds of employees for the energy plant and many providers of goods and services for Petrotrin.

With its pending closure, there will be a domino effect across communities with hundreds of households well beyond those directly supported by workers who will be retrenched from Petrotrin, facing difficult adjustments for many weeks, months, and many years to come.

This should have been factored into discussions about the future of the energy company.

Reference could have been made to the effects of the closure of Caroni (1975) Limited on dozens of communities across the sugar belt. By some accounts, negative repercussions are being felt to this day, several years later.

In situations of mass retrenchments, while negative fallout cannot be completely avoided, it is possible to mitigate some of the effects by ensuring support services are made available for the affected workers and there families.

Otherwise, there will be pain and dislocation in the communities that have fed off Petrotrin for decades.

Easing the overtime burden

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith should be commended for his efforts to reduce the mammoth $25 million-a-month bill in the T&T Police Service. This must be added to another huge overtime bill that has also been incurred at the soon to be restructured Petrotrin and gives rise to questions about the overtime situation at other public sector entities.

Given this country's low ranking in worker productivity, it is perplexing that millions, even billions worth of workplace extra time can be regularly claimed with little evidence to sure full attendance and productive output during normal working hours.

It may be time for an audit of man hours and overtime expenditure across the public service. Once the full picture is known, more effective controls on expenditure and improved accountability should yield savings for the State.

Energy diplomacy is the way to go

Wednesday's signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Governments of T&T and Guyana herald a new phase in relations between the two countries. Energy diplomacy, now required with recent oil discoveries in this corner of the Caribbean, is essential for the sharing of expertise and experience in ways that benefit both countries.


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