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Petrotrin team wants more time
The committee set up by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to look at the operations of the state energy company Petrotrin has asked for a six month extension to complete its first report.
The committee, which was appointed in March, was due to report to Dr Rowley on June 1 but have asked to be given until December to finish the task.
Dr Rowley said: “Petrotrin is the major state enterprise and there are so many things going wrong there. This audit is meant to identify these things and make recommendations.”
He assured that the report will be made public and Government will not be hesitate to make decisions which might be unpopular in some quarters.
The seven member committee was set up shortly after Government moved to stave off a strike at Petrotrin. It is chaired by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy Selwyn Lashley and includes two representatives from the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU).
Dr Rowley has confirmed that he held discussions with both Exxon Mobil and the government of Guyana for Petrotrin to refine oil from Guyana.
He said the Petrotrin refinery has a production capacity of 168,000 thousand barrels of oil per day. However, current production is 72,000 barrels a day.
“If we can get oil from Guyana it will put us in a better position,” he said.
The Prime Minister said Government was considering its options to deal with the foreign exchange shortage in the country. He admitted he was concerned that the Central Bank was making the same amount of foreign exchange available but there continued to be problems getting US currency.
“The Central Bank is making it available but it is not getting out where it is supposed to go because of operational systems,” he said.
Dr Rowley is convinced that if the banks properly distribute what was given out by the Central Bank “we would be better off than we are right now.”
He said: “This government has to look at options. We are always considering options but we don’t have the amount of foreign exchange one would like us to have because we not earning those levels of revenues again.”
He us also concerned that people have signs in their business places offering TT$8 for US$1.
“That is illegal but every police officer passes that by and does not ask any questions,” he said.
According to Dr Rowley, a combination of capital flight and hoarding is taking place and people who have the ability are buyin and hoarding US currency abroad, or buying and holding it, then encouraging a change in the exchange rate.”
While he admitted that there was not enough foreign exchange for all the country’s needs, the Prime Minister said Government was telling the banks to prioritise manufacturing, pharma euticals and the public debt.
He said manufacturers were being given priority because they were producing something and creating employment.”