Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 17th 2015 Contents A6
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The People s National Movement
(PNM) is ready and willing to have
a debate if there happens to be one.
This was the view of PNM leader Dr
Keith Rowley yesterday during a walkabout
in La Horquetta with the candidate for the
La Horquetta/Talparo Constituency, Maxie
"Is there a debate? We have indicated
that if the commission is able to organise
a debate then we are willing to participate,"
Currently there is an impasse between
Rowley and Prime Minster Kamla Persad-
Bissessar on the date of the "Great Debate."
Persad-Bissessar maintains the Debates
Commission informed her the leaders
debate will be held on July 30 and she sub-
sequently cleared her schedule for the occa-
However, Rowley s team was adamant
the debate should take place after nomi-
nation day. The commission announced
the dates of the debates would be held on
August 20 and August 27 but the Prime
Minster said her schedule was too busy in
When asked if he thought the Prime
Minister was unwilling to engage in a debate
Rowley said: "I cannot speak for the Prime
Minister. I speak for the PNM and the com-
mission put some rules in place and we are
willing to abide by those rules.
"I want to make one thing clear. All the
debates that the commission has had before,
the PNM has either taken part or was willing
to take part in.
Rowley said the PNM took part in the
very first debate in 2010. He added that
the PNM was willing to debate in both the
Tobago House of Assembly and Local Gov-
ernment debates but "others pulled out.
"We are the ones with a record of having
taken part and willing to take part, so if
there is one, we are willing to take part, if
there is none... well then. We did not have
one in the local government election and
it didn t really change the price of cocoa
did it?" Rowley asked.
Rowley said having a debate between
parties was important for the population.
"I think it will be a useful thing because
the population can benefit from it because
you will have an incumbent government
answering for its term of office and its
record, and you will have an aspirant oppo-
sition being able to present its position to
the population," he said.
Camille Robinson-Regis, lady vice-chair
for the PNM, said the debate could not
take place until after nomination day
because all parties involved must have at
least 21 candidates contesting the election.
Addressing the Third Force Movement s
withdrawal from the elections, Rowley said:
"Why are we talking about them? If they
cease to exist, why are we talking about
Trinidad Offshore Fabricators Unlimited
(TOFCO) yesterday announced the company
has decided to relocate the fabrication of
the jacket and piles for BP s US$2.1 billion
Juniper platform from the fabrication yard
in La Brea, which was the scene of demon-
strations by workers in April for higher
A later statement from BP said the fabri-
cation of the jacket and piles would be com-
pleted by a yard in Texas but the topsides of
the platform would continue in La Brea.
"The proposal to relocate some of the fab-
rication work was presented by TOFCO in
order to preserve the project schedule," bpTT
said in its statement.
Contacted last night, TOFCO spokesman
Javed Mohammed said the industrial action
did not contribute anything to the relocation
However, that was disputed by a top energy
official who told the T&T Guardian the
schedule of the fabrication of the topsides,
jacket and piles, a contract worth about
US$150 million, had slipped by about three
The official attributed 60 per cent of the
delay to the fact that a shipment of steel des-
tined for La Brea was stuck in Colombia.
Forty per cent of the delay was due to the
disruption caused by the industrial action
taken by the workers at the fabrication yard
in La Brea.
The decision to relocate the fabrication of
the jacket and piles to Texas will not lead to
a reduction in the current workforce at La
Brea, according to the TOFCO statement.
Contacted for comment last night, Energy
Minister Kevin Ramnarine said: "As the min-
ister, it is disappointing that we could not
construct the entire platform in Trinidad but
the bigger picture is that we maintain the
date for first gas from the Juniper platform,
which is the third quarter of 2017.
"I am also of the view that there are issues
around productivity at the fabrication yard.
"Since the commencement of the project
late last year, it is public knowledge that it
was affected by the industrial relations climate
in the southwest peninsula.
"Going forward as a country, if we are to
have a sustainable fabrication industry here,
we need to compete with yards in Mexico
and the US Gulf Coast."
The platform accounts for about seven per
cent of the estimated US$2.1 billion expen-
diture on the Juniper project, which includes
five wells and a pipeline connection with the
works in La Brea
shift to Texas
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Ready and willing Rowley says:
Citizens can benefit
from leaders' debate
La Horquetta residents take a selfie with PNM political leader Dr Keith Rowley and the
party's candidate for La Horquetta/Talparo constituency, Maxie Cuffie, right, during a
walkabout in the area yesterday. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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