Gonzales denies Opposition claims of privatising TSTT

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Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales – Angelo Marcelle

PUBLIC Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales is denying allegations by the Opposition that the restructuring exercise at TSTT is just a ruse to privatise the company.

He dismissed this as a conspiracy theory and said if Princes Town MP Barry Padarath has evidence to support the claim he is making, he would welcome the information.

The telecommunications services company has invited the representative workers’ unions to discuss a plan to restructure the company which has been losing revenue.

The Prime Minister has attributed the decline to the pandemic, coupled with the loss of traditional revenue as consumers are now mostly using digital applications like WhatsApp and communication platforms like Zoom.

Padarath, at the Opposition’s weekly news conference at the office of the Leader of the Opposition in Port of Spain on Sunday, said there were square pegs in round holes at TSTT, pointing to managers who left and have been brought back to oversee the company, as well as bad investments into the other telecommunications agencies. These, he said, are factors which have contributed to TSTT facing economic difficulties.

Questioning why the profit margin was dwindling, Padarath said the company was making a profit under the tenure of the People’s Partnership (PP) government.

He said prior to Kamla Persad-Bissessar assuming office in 2010, a former People’s National Movement (PNM) administration had articulated plans to privatise.

He said it appears that the plan of an old PNM government, thwarted by Persad-Bissessar, is now being continued at TSTT and the public utilities sector.

The manpower and profit margin at WASA is also being examined.

Padarath drew parallels to the closure of former state-owned Petrotrin prior to Government’s restructuring exercise, to what is happening at TSTT.

He said government was demonising workers to justify the telecommunications company’s demise.

Gonzales said the process was transparent and accused Padarath of injecting unnecessary fear into workers.

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