University of the West Indies
Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
PETITION TO SEE THE ALUTRINT ACCOUNTING SHEETThe State, having established by our Constitution and the rules laid down for performance monitoring of State Enterprises, that the ultimate shareholder of State Enterprises is the public, we the public, demand the right to see all the accounts, including a cost-benefit analysis, of Alutrint, a 100% owned State Enterprise, capable of enormous health, social, ecological and economic destruction of the lands, peoples and communities of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
For three years citizens of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago have been attempting to engage the State in a discussion on the economics of Alutrint, the propose aluminum smelter on the South West Peninsula. In 2006, officials of Alutrint and the National Energy Corporation refused to appear before Senator Mary King, the head of the Joint Select Committee established to assess concerns over the proposed aluminum industry in Trinidad. In 2007 requests for a cost-benefit analysis of Alutrint were rejected: citizens were thrown out of the National Energy Corporation and the Environmental Management Authority; requests for the cost-benefit analysis under the Freedom of Information Act were met by claims to “confidentitiality”. In 2007, a letter was written to Karen Nunez-Tesheira, the Corporation Sole, the Minister of Finance, asking for costs and benefits of Alutrint. There was no reply.
In June 2009, representatives of eight groups held a press conference in front of the Financial Towers in Port of Spain. They read to the media a letter they were sending to Professor Ken Julien, the chairman of the National Export Gas Task Force when Alutrint was established, Philip Julien the Ag. Chief Executive Officer of Alutrint, and Conrad Enill, the Minister of Energy and line Minister for Alutrint. After twenty-one days, there has been no response from these officials. The letter asked for the past, current and proposed costs of Alutrint, the cost-benefit analysis and a meeting with officials to be informed of the benefits of Alutrint.
The costs and benefits of this state enterprise, now 100% owned by Trinidad and Tobago, must not be hidden from public purview. The ultimate stakeholders in Alutrint are the citizens of the Republic. Huge capital, social and ecological cost will be borne, for forty to fifty years and more by the citizenry. What are the benefits?
Alutrint officials, the National Energy Corporation, the Ministry of Energy and the Finance Minister have failed to apply their own standards for efficiency, transparency and accountability. The State Enterprises Performance Monitoring Manual, published by the Ministry of Finance, Investments in January 2008 has ruled: “Government has agreed that State Enterprises be required to publish in at least one major daily newspaper a summary of the audited financial statements within 4 months to the end of their financial year and a summary of the unaudited half-yearly statements within two months of the mid-year date.” Regulations such as these apply to all state enterprises, including Alutrint, which make this entity answerable to the Corporation Sole, the Minister of Finance, Cabinet, Parliament and ultimately the public.
All the evidence seems to indicate that Alutrint would be an economic bust. The public must know this. We are the ultimate shareholders. The objective of this website is economic accountability. If we fail to ask questions about costs and benefits of Alutrint, the Government is likely to hide many economic costs and ultimately declare a financial profit. We cannot afford to let this happen. The health, economic, social and ecological risks are too enormous. We demand, as ultimate stakeholders to know the true costs and benefits of Alutrint. This question should be taken up by all citizens, our journalists, our legal experts, our trade unions, our politicians, and our economists, each and every citizen. If Alutrint’s CEO, Philip Julien; the line minister, Minister of Energy, Conrad Enill; the architect of Alutrint Professor Ken Julien cannot cost it, the public will close it. The Corporation Sole must know: Cost it or close it.
Submitted by Rhea Mungal