Leader of the Movement for Social Justice David Abdulah has said the Board of National Gas Company can not be given a ‘bligh’ for the hundreds of millions of dollars likely lost due to an ill-fated attempt to restart operations at LNG Train One.
Abdulah discussed the matter during a virtual press conference on Sunday and noted that millions of dollars had been lost through mismanagement and misuse of money at the state-owned company by both this administration and the previous UNC government which could have been prevented. But he said this did not absolve the current Board from the current situation.
“We also are very unhappy and we firmly disagree with the Board of NGC being given a bligh by saying that they cannot be held liable for any errors they may have made with respect the decisions taken with train 1. That is wrong. If you are put in a position on the Board, you have a responsibility and you have to be accountable. You cannot have power without accountability,” said Abdulah during the conference which was hosted on Zoom.
“And therefore, if you have been given a bligh, given this situation, of not going to be held liable for any decisions that they have made and protecting them against any legal actions indemnifying them against any legal actions that may be against NGC that is wrong because people value your own public office or your private office. You have to be held to account and the minute we stop holding people to account. We are in trouble,” said Abdulah.
Train 1’s operations had been in question from as far back as 2019, but there had been numerous attempts since then in attempt to forestall its final shutdown, with the NGC’s investment in 2020 one such endeavour.
“All we know is what as we reported in the media, which is, that NGC might put themselves in a position to have lost about 400 million TT dollars because they put money into train one to refurbish the plant. And so on, even though it was shut down. In preparation for it to get restarted, there’s no gas to restart it. So that it seems to be money that is dead money, but it’s not small money,” said Abdulah, who also gave some history concerning the train, noting it was not the first time Trinidad and Tobago may have lost out on millions on Train 1.
He explained that in an attempt to encourage investment in the burgeoning LNG sector, a 15 year tax break was granted to Train 1’s start up investors.
“So Trinidad, and Tobago as a country got little or nothing out of train 1. Yes. We got money from increased natural gas production offshore. So we got money from revenues from Gas production, but we did not get much money from the train one, because there was a 15 years tax holiday,” said Abdulah.