West: Sando becoming a shantytown

San Fer­nan­do seems to be be­com­ing more and more of a shan­ty­town.

That’s the view of Min­is­ter in the Min­istry of Fi­nance, Allyson West, who claimed to be a proud south­ern­er.

Speak­ing in Tues­day’s Sen­ate de­bate on Petrotrin’s re­fin­ery clo­sure, she said she was a “proud mem­ber of San Fer­nan­do” hav­ing grown up there with “pride and hope pro­pelled by the ex­is­tence of Tex­a­co and Petrotrin.”

But she added, “When I said I was a proud south­ern­er when I lived in South, San Fer­nan­do was boom­ing, it was bright, grow­ing with de­vel­op­ment.”

“In the last cou­ple years when I’ve dri­ven to San Fer­nan­do, I’ve been dis­tressed by the fact that San Fer­nan­do seems to be be­com­ing more and more of a shan­ty­town—there’s no growth, no de­vel­op­ment, you’re not see­ing the pros­per­i­ty that Tex­a­co and Petrotrin brought at that time.”

West said that was a re­flec­tion of what was hap­pen­ing to Petrotrin as the lead­ing in­dus­try in the area. She said San Fer­nan­do need­ed an in­jec­tion if it is to con­tin­ue to grow.

West said she al­so had fam­i­ly in Petrotrin and her broth­er was in charge of the Cat­alyt­ic (CAT) crack­er and had once been in­jured in an ac­ci­dent years ago.

“So I’m per­son­al­ly aware of the is­sues. It’s not that we weren’t aware of the is­sues or not car­ing or con­cerned about em­ploy­ees,” she said, adding Gov­ern­ment was faced with a tough de­ci­sion that had to be made.

West ad­mit­ted there was an ad­verse im­pact on em­ploy­ees, but not­ed mea­sures were im­ple­ment­ed for them.

She ar­gued that half of Petrotrin em­ploy­ees were mil­len­ni­als and stud­ies showed these peo­ple hop from job to job and they might have been less ad­verse to clo­sure es­pe­cial­ly since they got lump sums.

“We have a group who wasn’t com­mit­ted to stay­ing in a job for life and would have wel­comed the op­por­tu­ni­ty for change and try new things,” she said.

West de­tailed how work­ers’ is­sues were be­ing ad­dressed, adding the av­er­age pay­out per em­ploy­ee was $520,000 in the to­tal $2.7 bn ter­mi­na­tion pack­age. West said at least 1,000 would be em­ployed at the new Her­itage and Paria Fu­el Trad­ing com­pa­nies plus out­sourc­ing of jobs.

Reporter: Gail Alexander