Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley announced that there will now be a Commission of Enquiry into the incident at Paria’s facilities in Pointe-a-Pierre which left four divers dead.
In announcing the scrapping of the Shiv Sharma-led Investigative Committee to facilitate the Commission of Enquiry, the Prime Minister took aim at the Opposition’s “sustained attacks” on members of the Investigative Committee looking into the Paria incident, and accused the UNC, along with some Attorneys, of “trying to make mayhem of a tragedy that has traumatised this country.”
PM Rowley said the Government has a responsibility to ensure that the diving tragedy is thoroughly investigated, and those who are responsible are identified. He assured that, “Wherever there is responsibility and liabilities to be applied, they will be applied.”
The Prime Minister also presented research showing how high oil prices will affect the fuel subsidy. He said Government will have to take a decision as to how much funding it can find to subsidise, but the population cannot be insulated from oil running at $100+ a barrel. He stated, “Do not see the hike in oil price as opening up huge possibilities for earnings because the volume at which we are producing oil now is not the same as before when the subsidy was absorbed.”
Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales spoke on plans to improve water supply in communities. He said T&T is about to sign a MOU for a Modular Water Treatment Plant which can be brought into T&T in four months and can produce 5 million gallons of water. This will take care of a lot of the water quality and supply issues facing many communities.
Minister Gonzales stated that WASA is extracting just 30% of water available in our aquifers and has not been doing enough to increase its water capacity or identify new water sources.
Minister Gonzales confirmed that Leak Repair Programme continues. In the last three months, 6,000 leaks have been repaired and they will be working on clearing a backlog of 3,000 leaks.
WASA’s Call Centre operations will also be revamped in one month’s time.
Minister Gonzales noted that WASA has not had a rate increase for 28 years.
The Minister confirmed that the WASA Transformation Plan is also finished and he had a “very positive” meeting with union leaders representing WASA workers today.