The blame game continues!
Both the PNM and the UNC are blaming each other for the financial woes of Petrotrin.
On Tuesday night at a meeting in Marabella, Minister of Finance Colm Imbert sang the same tune he has been singing for the past three years – blame the last Government for everything.
Imbert claimed that the former People’s Partnership Government had deliberately tried to hide losses incurred by the Pointe-a-Pierre Refinery which had amounted to $11 billion from 2012 to 2017.
He sought to correct quite a bit of inaccurate information in the public domain on Petrotrin.
While Petrotrin overall had once made small profits of $885 million and $150 million, by 2015 it had lost $1.04 billion and in 2016 lost $5 billion. Imbert said the refinery lost $722 million in 2012, $2.3 billion in 2013, $2.6 billion in 2014, $2.7 billion in 2015, $1.3 billion in 2016 and $1.7 billion in 2017.
He said the last Government deliberately hid these refinery losses by creative accounting.
He added, “They were not recording these losses in the books as losses but as an advanced tax. They were hiding that in a corner.”
Imbert said the PNM government was told to post those losses, which had come as a shock to them. All these accumulated past losses were then posted under one year. He said all Petrotrin’s honchos had known the refinery was losing $2 billion per year, and was sucking in profits from the exploration side of Petrotrin’s operations.
He continued, “We brought in external auditors to interrogate the company’s auditor and accountant and find out what was going on.”
Based on what the experts said, the refinery would never make a profit.
Imbert said Petrotrin owes the Board of Inland Revenue $2.6 billion in taxes, and owes royalties to Energy Ministry $1.4 billion.
He said the Government’s fuel subsidy to Petrotrin is just $1 billion, so Petrotrin owes a net of $3 billion. He observed a big hole in oil companies payments to the Government, including $900 million owed by Petrotrin. He added, “We have not received a cent from Petrotrin this fiscal year.
He said despite Petrotrin’s non-payment, the Government has to guarantee any borrowing by Petrotrin, which buys 100,000 barrels of oil per day to run the refinery, at US$60 per barrel. About US$3 is lost on every barrel refined.
COLM IMBERT AT THE MARABELLA MEETING ON TUESDAY NIGHT