If ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel manufacturing and mining company with its wealth of professional staff and experience is unable to compete in price with the Chinese products and with falling demand, how then will the T&T Government?
I agree that we all have to be concerned with the plight of the 700 workers who have lost their jobs, and with more job losses to follow in those companies which provided supplies and services to ArcelorMittal, but the Government should never consider taking over the plant even if it is given for free.
Not only is the company burdened with an enormous US$1.2 billion debt, where will we recruit the expertise to operate and manage the plant? To whom will we sell the product? Remember our experiences with Iscott–even with the US Government imposing a high tariff on Iscott’s product saying that the plant was Government-subsidised.
Acquisition of ArcelorMittal even for free will be a greater disaster than (a) the construction of an aluminium smelter plant–or is it three smelter plants, (b) a gas-to-liquid plant, (c) constructing a pipeline to supply our Eastern Caribbean partners with natural gas when there is a shortage of gas and our industries at Point Lisas have been complaining for years of an inadequate supply of natural gas causing them to operate at reduced capacity, (d) the construction of a causeway to Chaguaramas in an era of rising sea levels, just to name another ill-fated project. And why a highway from Valencia to Toco before the completion of the highway to Point Fortin?
The latest project mentioned, even without a feasibility study, is the construction of a breakwater and beach at the Magdalena Hotel in Lowlands, Tobago.
I am in sympathy with all those workers at ArcelorMittal and elsewhere who have lost their jobs and we should seek to minimise their suffering. We must remember that T&T has no control over the market price of oil, natural gas, iron and steel.
In many parts of the world, steel plants have been operating at a loss and many, not only those owned by ArcelorMittal, have been forced to cease operating.
It is interesting to note that ArcelorMittal’s assets were valued at US$100 billion in 2014 and declined drastically to US$78 billion in 2016. Information from Bloomberg Magazine shows that the personal wealth of Lakshmi Mittal, the chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal, declined from US$69.1 billion in 2008 to US$9.6 billion in March, 2016.
Lakshmi Mittal is the owner of Queen’s Park Rangers Soccer Club.
Grafton Estate, Tobago