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Aluminium proposal goes to Energy committee

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

An international consortium will make a presentation on an aspect of the aluminium industry to Cabinet’s Energy Sub Committee tomorrow.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, who made the announcement at last Sunday’s PNM convention in Port of Spain, said a great deal of interest is being revived in the Tamana InTech Park, a facility specifically designed for technology and innovation-driven enterprises.

“We’re currently giving consideration to requests from both international and local investors to set up operations within the facility,” he said.

“After months of discussion an international consortium has completed a feasibility study on their interest in an aspect of the aluminium industry in Trinidad. A presentation on this proposal is scheduled to be made to the Energy Sub Committee.”

Rowley also said movement is ahead on a recent report to guide Petrotrin’s turnaround.

Noting state-owned Petrotrin’s debt is now $13 billion, he added: “The refinery is losing money on every barrel of oil it refines and the company isn’t doing that which all oil companies must do—drill to find and extract more oil. We’ve set up a specialist committee to examine their operations. The report of this exercise will soon be examined in Parliament.”

He said a major review of Petrotrin’s business has been undertaken.

“A new board mandated to fix the chronic problems has begun to focus on all aspects of management and operations, including allegations of questionable measurements of fiscalised oil in its farmout programme”

However Rowley expressed concern about future implications of continuing high public debt, now $93 billion, of which $38 billion has been incurred by state enterprises and statutory bodies like WASA and TTEC.

He said the debt size will force Government to continue borrowing.

“There are many other areas which cannot be just left behind or taken off the table, many other wider responsibilities which must be attended. We can only meet the projected lower levels of expenditure with the involvement of significant borrowings to close the shortfall between revenues and anticipated expenditure,” he said.

“We’ve been required to borrow to ease the burden of the downward adjustment. The truth is that at this time we’re borrowing significant sums to sustain our current standard of living. As laudable as this, it cannot be sustained. We must get out of this situation as quickly as possible, otherwise our future will be endangered. We therefore have to keep a close eye on our public debt profile and foreign reserve situation.”

Rowley said despite T&T’s circumstances, net official foreign reserves still stand at US$8.5 billion, representing ten months of import cover.


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