CARONI East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh has accused the Government of “cooking” the figures of State-owned Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) and called for an audit. In April this year, CAL announced $42 million in profit in 2018.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert told the Standing Finance Committee for the first time in “umpteen” years Caribbean Airlines was now profitable even after taken account of monies coming from the Government. Gopeesingh said: I think an audit needs to be done into there.
Imbert: And I want to congratulate...
Gopeesingh: You cook up those figures.
Imbert: ...the board and management of Caribbean Airlines for taking that entity where under the UNC it was losing $1.5 billion a year to now making a substantial profit under this PNM administration.
Gopeesingh: You cooked up those figures. We need to do an audit into Caribbean Airlines.
Imbert: Yes. We need to audit the 2010-2015 period where your government lost $4 billion.
Gopeesingh: You know there is no profit. You making up those figures now. We know there is no profit in Caribbean Airlines.
Imbert: It is in all the documents. It’s in the Parliament.
Committee chairman Bridgid Annisette-George intervened and asked Gopeesingh if he would be gracious and allow someone else to ask a question. In responding to a later question Imbert said a repayment under Caribbean Airlines was due to when the UNC administration had mortgaged an aircraft to subsidise billion dollar losses in the 2010-2015 period.
“This is a testimony to your poor management.” Caroni Central MP Dr Bhoe Tewarie also asked about debt servicing and Imbert replied debt servicing had gone down significantly from $8.9 billion in 2018 to $7.2 billion in 2019 and revenue went up. He said the percentage of revenue that was debt servicing went down from 20.7 per cent in 2018 to 15.6 per cent in 2019. “Performance PNM style.”
Tewarie said he saw the figures in the revenue of the economy and he wanted Imbert to confirm it. Imbert replied: “I can assure you that the public servants who do the review are very careful with their numbers and very accurate and honest. They are. It’s the same people. We don’t fudge the figures.”