UNC moves to block sale of Petrotrin

Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - 02:00

The Unit­ed Na­tion­al Con­gress (UNC) is seek­ing an in­junc­tion tem­porar­i­ly block­ing the sale of Petrotrin’s Pointe-a-Pierre re­fin­ery. 

The par­ty, through its for­mer sen­a­tor Wayne Sturge, filed the in­junc­tion ap­pli­ca­tion yes­ter­day as part of a con­sti­tu­tion­al mo­tion law­suit over the fail­ure of Fi­nance Min­is­ter Colm Im­bert to hold a Joint Se­lect Com­mit­tee (JSC) on En­er­gy Af­fairs for the past 19 months. 

In the in­junc­tion ap­pli­ca­tion, Sturge’s lawyer Ger­ald Ramdeen, who is al­so a for­mer UNC sen­a­tor, claimed that Im­bert’s “de­lib­er­ate and in­ten­tion­al in­ac­tion” un­der­mined the rule of law and the de­mo­c­ra­t­ic process as it pre­vent­ed the deal over the re­fin­ery from be­ing ex­ten­sive­ly scru­ti­nised by the JSC. 

“In­ter­im re­lief is re­quired in the cir­cum­stances of the case to pre­serve the sanc­ti­ty of the Con­sti­tu­tion and the rule of law and to en­sure that the un­law­ful­ness that has tran­spired for the past 20 months does not con­tin­ue and to en­sure that the state of un­ac­count­able gov­ern­ment that has ex­ist­ed for the past 20 months, in re­la­tion to the sale of the Petrotrin re­fin­ery does not con­tin­ue,” Ramdeen said. 

Ramdeen al­so sug­gest­ed that the in­junc­tion would be in the in­ter­est of good pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion. 

“The ef­fect of not grant­i­ng the in­junc­tion would con­done the ac­tions and de­ci­sions of the Ex­ec­u­tive in dis­pos­ing of valu­able State as­sets with­out the scruti­ny of the JSC on En­er­gy Af­fairs,” Ramdeen said. 

If the UNC is even­tu­al­ly suc­cess­ful in its ap­pli­ca­tion, the in­junc­tion will on­ly last while the sub­stan­tive claim over the in­ac­tiv­i­ty of the JSC is de­ter­mined. 

In the sub­stan­tive law­suit, Ramdeen claimed that Im­bert’s han­dling of the sit­u­a­tion breached the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers. 

“Not con­ven­ing a meet­ing of a JSC of the Par­lia­ment for an un­prece­dent­ed pe­ri­od of 20 months amounts to the Ex­ec­u­tive frus­trat­ing the will of the peo­ple by pre­vent­ing the Par­lia­ment from per­form­ing one of its most cru­cial func­tions, hold­ing the Ex­ec­u­tive ac­count­able for its ac­tions,” Ramdeen said. 

He al­so sug­gest­ed that Im­bert’s de­ci­sion was based on a de­sire to in­su­late his Gov­ern­ment’s han­dling of Petrotrin from crit­i­cism. 

“It is not a co­in­ci­dence that the fail­ure to hold a meet­ing of the JSC on En­er­gy Af­fairs co­in­cides with these sig­nif­i­cant de­ci­sions of the gov­ern­ment,” Ramdeen said. 

While Ramdeen ad­mit­ted that Par­lia­ment’s Stand­ing Or­ders does not give a fixed time-line for the hold­ing of a JSC meet­ing, he claimed that the court was still em­pow­ered to re­view Im­bert’s po­si­tion. 

Through the law­suit, Sturge is seek­ing de­c­la­ra­tions that Im­bert, as chair­man of the JSC, act­ed un­law­ful­ly, il­le­gal­ly and un­con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly. Sturge is al­so seek­ing an or­der com­pelling Im­bert to call an ur­gent meet­ing of the JSC.

A date for the first hear­ing of Sturge’s case had not been set, up to late yes­ter­day. 

Sturge is al­so be­ing rep­re­sent­ed by Dayadai Har­ri­paul and Umesh Ma­haraj.



Wayne Sturge Image by SHIRLY BAHADUR

Gerald Ramdeen Image by NICOLE DRAYTON