Thursday, November 23, 2006


Only people who receive invitations will be allowed into a symposium on the aluminum industry next month.
The event is being staged by the South Trinidad Chamber of Industry and Commerce in collaboration with the State-owned National Energy Corporation, at the Paria Suites Hotel, La Romaine, on December 6.
Chamber chief executive officer, Thackwray Driver, said yesterday that 250 stakeholders had been invited, but he declined to say whether Prime Minister Patrick Manning would attend, or the extent of Government involvement in the meeting of stakeholders on the controversial setting up of aluminum smelters in the country.
Driver said: "Invitations have been sent out to stakeholders from across the island. Some 250 people are expected to attend, but I cannot say if the Prime Minister would be there."
Earlier this month at a post-Cabinet media briefing, Manning said that the Government would hold a symposium on the plan at month end. He said depending on what comes out of that symposium, his administration would rethink its position on the smelters, which have drawn protests from environmentalists, villagers living near the proposed sites of the plants at Point Fortin and La Brea and politicians.
He had indicated that the NEC would hold the one-day symposium along with other groups.
As such, it was felt that the Government would have an input in the December 6 event. A source at the Chamber, however, said that Manning was not invited to that symposium.
Fitzroy Beache, president of the Cap-de-Ville/Chatham Environment Protection Group, one of the most vocal opponents of the proposed Point Fortin plant, said his group would not attend the symposium because "it is only by invitation".
He said: "If the Chamber was really interested in discussing the smelter and the effects on people's lives, it should have held it somewhere in Chatham for the public."
Beache said he would be leaving the country for three months to attend his daughter's graduation in the US, but assured villagers, "I am not deserting you. In my absence, the vice president and other members would carry on the struggle."
Chamber president, Rampersad Motilal, could not be reached for comment. He was said to be in a meeting
In a statement last week, Driver said international experts from the United States and other countries would attend the symposium, which would be open to the public, religious groups, government workers, businesses and members of the public, but priority would be given to the stakeholders, groups and schools from the South West Peninsula.
The objective of the symposium, he said, "is to provide information and to promote discussion on the development of the aluminum industry in the country as outlined (Manning) in his recent post-cabinet press briefing".
He said the Chamber had organised the symposium because "we are recognised as an independent, non-partisan association, which has consistently upheld the highest ethical standards and which has been actively involved in issues of national development for the past fifty years."


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