by Francis Joseph
Friday 5th March, 1993

ATTORNEY -AT- LAW Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj yesterday painted a gloomy picture at Central Trinidad Steel Limited (Centrin). He said certain actions by Caribbean Ispat Ltd have caused Centrin’s factories to close down, employees have been sent home, while international customers have cancelled their orders.

Maharaj submitted further that the international customers have threatened not to deal with Centrin in the future, while local orders have also been cancelled.

He added that Centrin and the Caribbean Steel Mills Ltd (CSM), known as the Downstream Re-Rollers, cannot fulfill the terms of conditions entered with their customers. Maharaj said the Downstream Re-Rollers have lost $3 million monthly.

Centrin and CSM filed a constitutional motion in which they are seeking mandatory orders compelling Ispat to supply them with 6,000 metric tons of steel billets in accordance with the price agreed to in 1990.

They also want an order to prohibit Ispat from sending any one of its profits out of the jurisdiction of the court until the hearing and determination of the motion.

Hearing began yesterday before Justice Shafeyei Shah in the Port-of-Spain High Court. Maharaj is representing Centrin, while attorneys Desmond Allum, Gregory Delzin and Martin George appear for CSM. Hearing resumes on Monday. Executives of Centrin, CSM, and Ispat, filled the courtroom yesterday to hear the applications.

Maharaj said the evidence was clear that there was an agreement between Centrin and CSM and Ispat to supply 72,000 metric tons of steel billets. The billets were supplied during the period October 1990 and November 1992.

He submitted that in November 1992, Ispat wanted to change the price of the billets. Maharaj said Ispat attempted to repudiate the contract. Centrin and CSM, he said, did not accept. Negotiations were held over the next four months in an effort to have Ispat continue with the same agreement.

Maharaj said the law permitted the court to grant a mandatory injunction if the court was in doubt that Ispat does not have assets within the jurisdiction of Trinidad and Tobago to satisfy any damages which might alternately be amended against it.

Maharaj said the court ought to consider the public interest, saying that the agreement was made in the presence of the then Minister of Industry Dr Bhoe Tewarie in 1990.