Trinidad and Tobago
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Pay families of divers $1b each

Letters to the Editor
Newsday Prime Minister Dr Rowley - Jeff K. Mayers
Prime Minister Dr Rowley - Jeff K. Mayers

THE EDITOR: Paria Fuel Trading Company splashes millions of dollars around, so one may get the impression that it is a privately run company accountable to only the shareholders, instead of one wholly owned and responsible to the people of TT.

It is public knowledge that Paria is a subsidiary of state-owned Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Ltd (TPHL), which also owns Heritage Petroleum Company Ltd and Guaracara Refining Company Ltd.

Since the Government runs these four companies, and their primary functions are to produce and sell hydrocarbons internationally and to supply the local market, why do we spend millions in salaries for four companies when one board of directors, chairman and CEO could do the same job?

Isn't that the reason Petrotrin was closed in the first place? Too many highly paid employees caused it to become top-heavy with too many well-paid executives and middle managers? Now we have just one executive to rule them all – Prime Minister Rowley, who appointed Michael Quamina as chairman of TPHL to be his eyes and ears on the ground. Is the reason for having four major billion-dollar corporations to provide jobs for PNM cronies instead of one?

Instead of Quamina presiding over meetings with the four boards, why not dissolve Guaracara, Paria and Heritage and let Quamina be a full-time chairman of one company (TPHL) to oversee it all? Isn't Quamina capable of handling this task, or is he too busy running his core business as an attorney – and a senior counsel at that? Too many cooks is a well-known adage that applies.

After the Paria diving tragedy, what a compassionate Government would have done is to immediately apologise for the deaths of the four divers and the one who, despite all odds, miraculously survived but will suffer from PTSD for the rest of his life. All the millions saved by having just one company (TPHL) with one board could have been used to care for the five workers' families. No commission of enquiry (CoE) was even necessary.

Let us stop this madness of blaming workers when the real problem is the boards of directors who know nothing about the companies they manage. The families of the divers have suffered enough. Disband the CoE.

While nothing can be done to mitigate the suffering of the divers who waited in vain for the help that never materialised, this Government can make amends to each of the five families by paying them $1 billion each so that they can move on with their lives. $5 billion is a small price when considering the hundreds of billions of profits that TPHL generates annually.