Last update: 06-Dec-2013 2:57 am
Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Howai predicts stable oil price of US$100
Finance Minister Larry Howai is confident that oil prices will remain stable for the next year. Speaking a post budget forum hosted by the Couva Point Lisas Chamber of Commerce, he forecast a long-term price of oil of around US$100 a barrel. Howai said the problem in Syria would only cause a temporary spike in prices and the biggest threat to the T&T economy would come in the form of possible labour unrest next year if industrial relations are not properly handled.
The minister said investments in the upstream energy sector are important to attract downstream investments and initiatives in the budget focused on the offshore energy sector to ensure it was up and running as steps are taken to diversify the economy. He said investments are made in the downstream sector when investors are guaranteed supplies of natural gas for a specific period.
He said investors in the past had shied away because they could not be guaranteed a reliable supply of gas. The energy sector contributes $65 billion annually and Howai said the upstream sector can bring in more sources of natural gas to attract investment. In response to questions from chamber members, Howai said payments to contractors continue to be a major bugbear. He said it was not a question of funding but one of government bureaucracy.
In addition, he said, some contractors who get word of mouth contracts without Cabinet approval are getting trouble to get money. Howai said he was considering pushing back the October 1 date for implementing the 25 per cent tax for vehicles over 2,500cc so that he can meet with car dealers on that matter, as well as tax concessions for hybrid cars.
Economist Mariano Brown, who also spoke at the forum, warned that motorists would not make the switch to CNG as long as diesel remains more commercially viable. He called for institutional strengthening to ensure that plans are carried through. “We need to spend a little more time moving our country from point A to Point B,” Brown said.
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