Friday, November 24, 2006

YES tt slams 'invitation only' smelter symposium

by Kimberly Mackhan
Trinidad Express
November 24, 2006

A decision by the State-owned National Energy Corporation (NEC) to invite only selected candidates to a symposium on the construction of two aluminium smelter plants earmarked for South Trinidad has provoked a non-partisan group to brand the meeting as an illegitimate consultation.

YEStt chairman, Stephen Cadiz, yesterday criticised NEC and the South Trinidad Chamber of Industry and Commerce, who will be collaborating to host a public meeting on December 6 on the establishment of the smelter plants, for limiting the meeting to strictly invited members.

"It is absurd that the public meeting on the smelters for interest groups by means of a symposium, organised by the NEC, is by invitation only," Cadiz said.

"This symposium on the smelters is yet another smoke screen by the Government and cannot be considered a legitimate consultation."

He added: "The South Chamber of Commerce now says that 350 persons could attend the symposium but by invitation only. Who is the person making up the 'guest list' and what could possibly be the criteria for getting 'picked' for this all inclusive?"

Cadiz made reference to comments that were previously made by Prime Minister Patrick Manning. He pointed out that Manning had indicated that "Government has looked very carefully at the situation and believes the time has come to make some kind of positive intervention to ensure that the situation is clarified in the public domain".

Cadiz also stressed that Manning had publicly stated that Government had decided to ensure that the public would be properly informed in a forum that discussed the issue dispassionately.

He added that there was supposed to be a debate in Parliament following these public consultations.

Cadiz emphasised that YEStt was "totally against" the development of any aluminum smelter industry in Trinidad and Tobago.

"We must explore other options of development which would ensure sustainability for our country," he said.

"The Keith Noel 136 Committee, through its referendum earlier this year, got just under 50,000 respondents saying that for major projects-such as the construction of a smelter plant-there should be full disclosure before any decision is made. A select group of 350 persons does not, by any means, represent full disclosure and transparency."


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