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Govt collects $9b from bpTT

Saturday, December 14, 2013
Head of the T&T Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (TTEITI), Mark Regis, speaking at the open data workshop at the Kapok hotel in Port-of-Spain on Thursday. PHOTO: BRIAN NGFATT

Of all the multinational energy companies operating in T&T, bpTT paid the highest taxes—$9.9 billion for the period ended September 2011, according to the T&T Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (TTEITI) 2010-2011 report. Mark Regis head of TTEITI, revealed the figure during an open data session at the Kapok Hotel. “No surprise there,” he said. “I think most people would think that BP would be the largest taxpayer.”



The other four multinational energy-based companies paying the highest taxes to the T&T Government are BG T&T Ltd, BHP Billiton Ltd, EOG Resources Trinidad Ltd and Repsol. Regis said the five multinational companies plus National Gas Company (NGC) and Petrotrin “accounted for 97 per cent of the (total) revenue earned in that year”. He said Petrotrin paid $3.5 billion in taxes for that period. 


He explained that the TTEITI report was designed “with the average citizen in mind,” and the information it contains was clear enough for the average person to interpret its findings. He said the report ensured there was independent accounting of the funds received and disbursed by the Government and by the companies that transacted business with the Government. According to the report, in fiscal year 2011 Government reported receiving $23 billion from the extraction of oil and natural gas.


“The EITI asks you (the company) what you paid but, it doesn’t ask you what you should have paid (in taxes). “The Petroleum Pricing Committee is supposed to make recommendations on a regular basis about the price that you obtained for your extracted resource. If that committee is not meeting regularly, are we (the Government) getting all that we should be getting?”


The report by the TTEITI’s which was established in 2003. Regis said its release “is a significant achievement” since the TTEITI had to overcome several legal and regulatory hurdles, including “the confidentiality requirements in the Income Tax Act”. “Even if the taxpayer wanted it shared, it was considered that the information couldn’t be shared because there was a liability issue on the part of the employees of the Board of Inland Revenue.”


Regis said the TTEITI had worked on draft legislation to prevent any future hurdles when it came to revealing revenue earned by the Government. “The EITI’s principle is that both sides share the information voluntarily because they should want to account to the people, voluntarily, for what they are doing. There’s a growing the EITI that may be we shouldn’t leave it to be voluntary. 


“There is a growing move to legislate and make it mandatory that you (the multinational) are entering this country, one of the requirements and the laws in this country is that you must share this information for accountability to the public.”


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